Sarah's Reviews > Momo

Momo by Michael Ende
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Feb 05, 08

bookshelves: childrens-books, reviewed
Read in January, 2008

A singular book by Michael Ende, not nearly as well known as "The Neverending Story," but - in my opinion - just as meaningful, and a great deal more succinct. That longer and more famous novel is about the power of stories; this is about the power of time. Both long for the simplicity of youth and, in so doing, try to warn child readers against growing up the wrong way (both also feature friendly protagonists subsumed by the power they are given). As a result, they're a bit heavy-handed - but in the sense of an old-time fairy tale, where the morality lesson is clear, but carefully sewn into the fabric ofthe story. Kids shouldn't be put off by the technique.

More simply: where else can you find the Buddhist parable of life and death put in simple child's terms? _Acceptable_ terms, too, without pulling any punches? Perhaps Ende was inspired - or more aptly, horrified - by the rise of fascism during his own childhood, within his own country. Can it be any coincidence that "Momo" is set in a fictional Italian village, where "grey men" invade and set to work making sure everything runs on time?

Like "The Neverending Story" - and the inevitable comparison is a bit unfortunate, because "Momo" works so well on its own terms - this is a 'hard' children's novel, but a worthwhile one. It certainly does not deserve the obscurity it suffers in the English-speaking world. Someone should take a chance and reprint this, right away.
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