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The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O
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The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The Thirteen Clocks is a mixture of fairy tale, parable, and poetry. It has everything to please everybody. There is a princess in distress, a prince in disguise, a wicked uncle, and a last minute race between good and evil which is as exciting as any thriller. James Thurber wrote it, when he was supposed to be writing something quite different, because he couldn’t help hi ...more
Paperback, 158 pages
Published 1983 by Puffin (first published 1958)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  186 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Lucy Banks
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya
This has long been a favourite book of mine and I have read it many, many, times since childhood. Ostensibly a children's book (my copy is a Puffin paperback), it is probably better appreciated by adults. It consists of two short, unrelated stories. As a child, my favourite was always The 13 Clocks. A fairytale like story about a prince fulfilling a quest to win the hand of the princess. It is filled with quirky humour, an evil duke, and 13 clocks that have all stopped. The Wonderful O is a pira ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bought this as much for the Ronald Searle illustrations as because of Thurber himself - also previewing whether it might be good bed-time reading for a 5-year-old (conclusion: wait a couple of years).
While the writing and inventiveness is plainly quite sophisticated, I wasn't really noticing the specific literary devices for which it is famous as I was going through.
This edition includes "The Wonderful O", a sort of allegorical fantasy quite reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth (which I am hardl
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all children, all parents, all grandparents
Absolutely brilliant. Two very engaging and educational stories, beautifully written, and utterly superb to read aloud.

This is a first-class example of a book that should be read to every child, and that in due course of time every child should be able to read for themselves. It makes the present-day offerings of childrens’ books for sale in bookshops look entirely inadequate.

I have seen “The 13 Clocks” performed, excellently and very enjoyably, as a school play.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another book that I turn to when I need cheering up. The 13 Clocks is a fairy tale with all that a fairy tale should have; A wicked villain, a beautiful princess, a dashing hero (in disguise . . .) and more than one curse in effect. All turns out well, of course, it is a fairy tale (as I think I may have mentioned) after all but that won't stop you worrying that the Prince will be slit from his guggle to his zatch or that the Princess will be forced to marry the evil Duke. You will fear the soun ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This was a Neil Gaiman recommendation from his book A View from the Cheap Seats. This book contains two stories that go back to what fairy tales really should be about...dastardly villains! What I also love is what lacks in so many books today - real intelligence and an obvious effort by the author to portray not only a good story, but a clever read. I’m privileged to have read these tales, but not only because they are original, funny and brilliantly written, but also because you can tell that ...more
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First read when I was a child and I've adored it ever since. Thurber is a wonderful storyteller and his invented fairytales are witty and clever and full of enchantment. I read it often and enjoy it as much (or even more) every time. This Puffin edition has illustrations by Ronald Searle and they are absolutely perfect. Thurber loves words and uses them with instantly beguiling dexterity. ...more
Alice Rebekah Fraser
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favourite books. It's incredibly joyful, rollicking, sly, wry, witty and brilliant fun. Its turns of phrase are so delightful that they stick in your mind and pop out at odd moments.

It's wonderful to read out loud, and it's one of the few books I've read that does not become less delightful with time. I have not found many other people who have read this book, but in my mind it is an absolute essential.
This is one of the few books that when you're selecting 5 stars, 'it was amazing' you think to yourself this book is, in the most literal sense, amazing. Wordplay like this, I have not read before. The skill is astonishing, and rhythm in the word arrangements sometimes enchanting. The stories or plots are almost irrelevant. It's about the words.

In 'The Wonderful O', the lists read/sound like music. They go on a bit.. but every symphony has it's highlights.

Quite an experience.
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Love it. Read it 'til the pages fell out, then read it some more only carefully. ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love these kinds of books, ones that are easy to read but still interesting for older readers - and they never get old! This must be my fourth time reading, but I still immensely enjoyed it! I would 100% recommend for when you want a break from big, challenging books, or when you’ve got a huge book/series on the go. Just hilarious
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thurber is a wonderful wordsmith. Adorable tales, not treacly, but fun.
Roz Cashen
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magical, funny, cynical, wonderful.
Katie Ipfritsch
Read this like a million years ago when I was a kid, and I still wonder where ones guggle and zatch are. Thats all I remember about this book tbh.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book of wonderful genius. Some books should be thrown at people. This is one of those books.
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Picked this up at a used bookstore for $2 last night, and took it with me to Jury Duty today. As it turned out, we were all sent to a courtroom almost immediately, so I only got to read it at lunch. Happily, I was dismissed from the jury, so I read the rest of The 13 Clocks to celebrate. After dinner I thought, what the heck, and read The Wonderful O.

The 13 Clocks was more fun, but The Wonderful O had its moments, too, so I'd recommend them to anyone in the mood for some silliness. The Wonderful
Ben Thurley
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The 13 Clocks is wonderful, an absolute delight. Thurber's wordplay is marvellously inventive, and the fairytale manages to be both funny, subversive and emotionally engaging. I read this aloud to my eldest son, and we were both completely captivated by the duke who has murdered time, the Minstrel who wishes to marry the princess, and his impossible quest.

The second story in this volume, The Wonderful O is good, but not quite the treasure found in the first story. It delights in rhyme and wordpl
Kasia James
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
I've reread these books many times, and they are perfect fairytales, with the special Thurber touch. James Thurber loved to play with language, so that many parts read more as poetry than prose. The Gollux, the only gollux in the world, with his indescribable hat, is a unforgettable character.
Not just for children, but terrific fun for everyone.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kids, young and old
I read this book during two class periods in the 4th grade, and was enchanted by it. What I remember standing out to me was the beauty of the words and poetry of the writing. This is a great children's story, but I think that if I read it again now I would still love it! ...more
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is so good I started reading it aloud to myself. The sounds roll along, the word choice apt, and the story fairytale -ish. I wish I had this book growing up, but it was equally fun to read it for the first time this week!
Jun 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was one of the many books I read while staying with my cousins on holidays at Lake Tekapo. Their holiday house bookshelf was full of good things. Even though I read it many years ago, fragments of it stay with me even now. So clever, so funny!
Caryn Bierbauer
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s, pre-2010
I remember reading this book as a child and thinking the stories were wierd and very odd, unlike anything I had ever read before. But entertaining nonetheless, as obviously I am now recalling them many years later.
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book I read aloud to an appreciative audience not long ago. The writing is crystal clear, funny, droll, quite exquisite. It's the only Thurber I've read, and the illustrations by Ronald Searle are really great. I can recommend it for any ages. ...more
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a strange little book. It appears to be for children, but it is not. It was rather interesting I must admit. I found it in a library discard pile.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointing stories. However, Mr. Searle's illustrations are 5 stars. ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Two brilliant alternative fairy-tales, with magical and unexpected use of language.
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Jul 08, 2012
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Apr 14, 2012
Clare Skeets
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Feb 02, 2018
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Oct 20, 2013
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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

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