The Wonderful O
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The Wonderful O

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  611 ratings  ·  86 reviews
The Wonderful O tells of a man named Black who despised the letter "O." He deleted it from his language and omitted it from his words. Opals, moonstones, owls and oaks could not possibly be his items of choice. He preferred emeralds, rubies, sapphires and maps. At least they had no "O." Soon he wanted his entire village to omit the letter "O." But the villagers found words...more
Published November 1st 2001 by New Millennium Audio (first published 1957)
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imagine a wrld withut the letter . a wrld withut chicken ndle sup r the mn (well...). where peple can eat ham but nt prk. it is very cmplicated, and incnsistent in its legislatin. but still pretty fun, and its a kids bk, s we can ignre the little hiccups in lgic. and, n, its nt written withut the letter , its just abut a land where that particular letter is banned; its n perec junir. but its still a fun light read, and a lt less glmy than perec can be.
This book was one of my favorites when I was about eight, and I read it innumerable times. I can still remember many passages verbatim. In case you don't know it, here is a brief summary of the plot. Two disreputable pirates, Black and Littlejack, arrive at the island of Ooroo. They have reason to believe that a fabulous treasure is buried there. They also have an insane hatred of the letter O.

They proceed to search for the treasure, and also to ban everything that contains an O in its name: clo...more
Sort of like OULIPO for kids. Or would it just be a kind of Perec for kids? Or maybe just a warning to kids to stay away from people who discriminate against particular vowels, and try to rid the world (or the text) of them.

Pirates attack a small island. When they find no treasures the head pirate gets very angry and punishes the island by ridding it of anything that has the letter O in it, the bane of his existence. What follows is an attempt by the pirates and their collaborators (I just real...more
I like The Wonderful O as much now as I did when I first read it at age 8. If you haven't come across it, imagine that George Orwell and Lewis Carroll got drunk one night and decided to collaborate on a short children's book. No description will do it justice.

But to give you a taste of what you're missing, here's the song that Black and Littlejack sing as they set out on their insane quest to ban the letter 'O':
I won't go down the horrible street
To see the horrible people
I'll gladly climb the
I came across this book looking for something to get my niece Hailey for her birthday. The story is reminiscent of Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, which also explores issues of hope, love, valor and freedom. Pirates invade the island of Ooroo looking for lost treasure. Their leader, the man named Black, loathes the letter "O" because his mother had suffered a terrible mishap involving a porthole so he outlaws any word containing it (which allows Thurber to get away with all sort...more
A very short tale about an island that is invaded by pirates looking for treasure. They can't find treasure so they remove everything with an "O" in it because the captain hates words with "O"s. At the end I didn't wish I had the time I spent reading back, but on the whole I was unimpressed.
A magical little fairytale, with evil pirates Black and Littlejack seeking treasure on the island of Ooroo, and systematically robbing the letter o from out of the lives of the inhabitants. This causes all srts f prblems (especially for Ophelia Oliver, who had to withdraw from the society of men), as the lives f the ppulatin becme really difficult withut that letter. There are undertnes f ppressin and peaceful prtest, but thankfully nrmality is restred with the aid f magic.
Thurber's lve f langua...more
found this randomly in a used bookstore. it is wonderful indeed.

first paragraph:
Somewhere a ponderous tower clock slowly dropped a dozen strokes into the gloom. Storm clouds rode low along the horizon, and no moon shone. Only a melancholy chorus of frogs broke the soundlessness. Then a strange figure appeared out of the nocturnal somnolence, as unexpectedly as the blare of a bugle in a lullaby. He entered the tavern near the sea, and a blade of light flashed into the blackness and disappeared wh...more
Óscar Brox
A propósito del Oulipo, el taller de literatura potencial fundado por Raymond Queneau y François Le Lionnais en 1960, decía uno de sus integrantes que era como un laberinto de palabras, sonidos, frases o párrafos. Un cruce entre la técnica y la emoción, donde la pasión por las combinaciones literarias no era menos importante que la alegría de vivir. A finales de los 50, al otro lado del Atlántico, James Thurber apuraba los pocos años de vida que le quedaban -moriría en 1961- con pequeños relatos...more
This bk is a wrdsmith's dream. James Thurber's 1957 story The Wonderful O, about a tyrannical pirate who bans everything on an island that contains the letter O - because his mother was once stuck in a porthole, with tragic consequences. It's a wonderful surprise that this book turns out to be about human liberty.
After a very promising beginning this book quickly devolves into tedium. The interest in wordplay that is evident in Thurber's other children's books becomes, here, unrelentlessly self-indulgent. If I'd read this first, I doubt I would have gone on to discover The 13 Clocks, his masterpiece of juvenilia.
Matthew Turner
Jan 08, 2014 Matthew Turner rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carol Vorderman and puzzlers
Recommended to Matthew by: The internet
What a quirky little thing this turned out to be — like a collaboration between Dr. Seuss and Robert Frost. I can’t help but wonder if Wonderful O features on Carol Vorderman’s must-read list? It seems like the kind of thing that would float her boat.


As an avid fan of the English language, this novella pushed all my pleasure buttons. But some of those buttons were pushed just slightly too firmly for a tad too long. As a concept piece, it could have done with some editing. However, as a work of n...more
Jan 09, 2013 Jan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children and adults
Recommended to Jan by: Hew Wolff
Shelves: children-s
Not as Wonderful as The Thirteen Clocks, but it's still Thurber, so it's still pretty wonderful.
Alexis Neal
A fun short story by humorist James Thurber, though nowhere near as clever or delightful as the fanciful The 13 Clocks.

Two pirates, Littlejack and Black, plus their minions, set off on a treasure hunt that takes them to the island of Ooroo. The inhabitants don't know anything about any treasure, so the pirates and minions scour the island, wreaking havoc and destroying anything that gets in their path. Along the way, the pirate Black, who has an unaccountable loathing for the letter 'O', tries t...more
"The Wonderful O" is definitely a childrens story meant to be read only by adults. Or maybe children from the 1930s - before TV and the advent of the shortened attention span.

This very slim volume (the slimness of which is what attracted me - well, that and the fact that it is written by Thurber - usually a fairly funny fellow) is a story of a island which is taken hostage by villians and pirates who hate the letter "o" and therefore ban it. The unhappy citizens find a ancient legend which even...more
If I rated this book on the story, I might not give it five stories, but here the story itself is secondary to the wordplay. And that makes it worth savoring--and even celebrating. After finishing it, I went back and read the delightful first two pages with their wonderful alliteration, an alliteration alternating between that of vowels and that of consonants.

The book reads almost like poetry in prose; I will look forward to sharing this book with my nieces and nephews and if they allow me to re...more
Sunny in Wonderland
Maybe I missed reading this when I was still in the "target audience." I just didn't really enjoy this one. It was cute, but I didn't initially understand WHY Black didn't like the letter O. After sleeping on it, it hit me that the porthole was SHAPED like the letter O, but still. But, a child should have gotten it, right? Yet, my 10 year old (an advanced reader) didn't.

He gave up on it before really getting started, but I finished the story. It just seemed disjointed to me. A pirate searching f...more
Shonna Froebel
This is a classic I hadn't come across before, and I have to say I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to. Parts of it seemed to ramble off the narrative.
The story is that a pirate with a map meets up with another pirate with a boat and crew and they sail to the island of Ooroo where there is supposed to be treasure buried. The map they have doesn't have the location of the treasure, so they ransack the island looking for it. The captain of the boat hates the letter O and gradually tries to ri...more
Von Fritz
This book is a treasure...I found in Booksale. Got it for only 25 pesos and I had much entertainment.

I really can say that James Thurber is one genius. Imagine, writing a book all about a particular vowel in the alphabet: the letter 'O'.

The book reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth. There's a lot of wordplay here. I love wordplay!

Meet Little Jack and Black, two ruthless pirates who came upon the Island of Ooroo riding the shio Aeiu (without the O). The two hates the letter O and adding up the tri...more
Penny Peck
When I was compiling the list of Phantom Tollbooth readalikes, I knew Thurber’s The Wonderful O would be my first choice. I read this as a kid, and have re-read it a few times since then, and always found it clever, original, and entertaining. A new picture book by Tom Lichtenheld, E-mergency! (Chronicle Books, 2011), has a similar theme. In E-mergency!, the letter E has an accident and must rest in the hospital, so everyone must stop using that crucial letter. In The Wonderful O, a pirate named...more
Feb 22, 2009 Deb rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of The Phantom Tollbooth
Shelves: childrens, fiction
A great read-aloud; this was my first Thurber book, so the rhythm of his metre was a delightful surprise.

The story is about a ship captain who follows a map and arrives on an island in search of a treasure. When his crew searches the village and the surrounding area thoroughly but finds no valuables, the captain thinks the villagers have hidden their jewels and decides to take revenge. He's an odd duck because he hates things with the letter 'O' in it, so he begins issuing decrees banning objec...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

El libro que vengo a comentar hoy tiene dos hándicaps a priori: el primero, evidentemente tiene que ver con su extensión, es demasiado corto; y nos guste o no, mucha gente compra libros “al peso”; es decir, si no le va a proporcionar horas de lectura no va a parecer necesario hacer el gasto; el segundo problema tiene que ver con el tema, es una fábula humorística, esto no debería ser tan importante, pero, hoy en día, el gran James Thurber no e...more
Kathryn McCary
Oh, the pleasures of rereading!
My parents read this aloud to my older sister and me sometime before I was age 8. I'm not sure how that happened, because I don't think either of them had read anything else by Thurber. . .but they somehow stumbled across The Great Quillow, and then they read us this one. Given their politics, that's almost astonishing, but maybe they didn't connect it to the McCarthy hearings. In any event, I marvel most of all at the fact that they managed to read it aloud; as th...more
This is not Thurber's best work; that would be Many Moons, and followed closely by The 13 Clocks, but this is still Thurber's work, illustrated by Marc Simont, and, therefore, it is still wonderful.

The beginning of the book is fun -- Pirate Black's mother got stuck in a porthole, so now Pirate Black hates Os and decides to banish them.

And the ending is great -- There are four O words to always remember: Hope, Love, Valor and FREEDOM.

Chanel Alvarez
The Wonderful O is a good read about love, valor and freedom. The story is about two guys Black and Littlejack; they also happen to be very bad men. They come across a map that would lead them to a far away island that contains treasure and magic. But when they, the pirates,arrived sure enough there is no treasure to find. Black then becomes vengeful and decides to control the Island and rid it of all the "O's". Black doesn't like the letter "O" because his mother was wedged in portholes. The is...more
«La forma de la historia es maravillosamente hábil.»

«Una alegoría divertida que habla del amor, el valor y la libertad en un constante juego de palabras.»

«¡Qué maravilla poder disfrutar de los cuentos para niños de Thurber, que en realidad son para adultos!»

«La más bella y animada de las parábolas. El final es una verdadera sorpresa.»

«Un pequeño gran clásico.»

«Una sátira sobre la dictadura y una celebración del espíritu...more
What a great surprise this little book turned out to be. I loved the rhythm and the simpleness of it, but you also start to realize how powerful that little letter O is. And I wonder how Thurber decided to use O, because it was perfect. It's in the simplest words, and in some of the most powerful words also.

It's a fun, quick read, that is really enjoyable to anyone who enjoys words or the power they actually have.

"Taking a single letter from the alphabet," he said, "should make life simpler."
Pirate Captain Black and his crew outlaw the letter O on the island of Ooroo.
Matt Heavner
read this aloud with Torsten -- definitely a great one to read aloud to someone!!! Lots of fun with language.
1.5 stars

Black and Littlejack need to get a life.
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Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio to Charles L. Thurber and Mary Agnes (Mame) Fisher Thurber. Both of his parents greatly influenced his work. His father, a sporadically employed clerk and minor politician who dreamed of being a lawyer or an actor, is said to have been the inspiration for the small, timid protagonist typical of many of his stories. Thurber described his mother as a "born comedien...more
More about James Thurber...
Many Moons The Secret Life of Walter Mitty The 13 Clocks The Thurber Carnival My Life and Hard Times

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“Taking a single letter from the alphaber," he said, "should make life simpler."

"I don't see why. Take the F from life and you have lie. It's adding a letter to simple that makes it simpler. Taking a letter from hoarder makes it harder.”
“It was written all in O, or nearly so, and all the O's are gone," said Andrea. "When coat is cat, and boat is bat, and goatherd looks like gathered, and booth is both, since both are bth, the reader's eye is bothered."

"And power is power, and zero zer, and, worst of all, a hero's her." The old man sighed as he said it.

"Anoon is ann, and moan is man." Andrea smiled as she said it.

"And shoe," Andreus said, "is she."

"Ah, woe," the old man said, "is we.”
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