When I saw The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber (originally published 1950; republished New York Review of Books) had an introduction by Neil Gaiman and was a part of The New York Review Children’s Collection, I was intrigued. The Thirteen Clocks is a short and bizarre fairy tale. Or fantasty story. Neil Gaiman describes it as nothing anyone has ever seen before or since and that is about right. (more…)
The cartoon-like illustrations in Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (First Second Books, September 2014) perfectly match the child-like imaginative story. It begins with fantastic personification:
Julie’s house came to town and settled by the sea.
And Julia is obviously not a normal girl, for when she decides to open her home to lost creatures, she finds herself welcoming not just “patched up Kitty” but a sad troll and all sorts of other monsters. (more…)
The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit (published 1907) is a tale of modern magical enchantments. Three children, Gerald (Jerry), Jimmy, and Kathleen (Cathy), stumble upon a large estate that reminds them of a castle; in their play acting, they stumble upon a sleeping girl they decide must be a princess. Despite her later declaration that she is just the housemaid’s niece, Mabel, their play-acting seems to have become real when the ring she puts on has become a ring of invisibility.
Mabel, Jerry, Jimmy, and Cathy proceed to have a summer of magical adventures, for the ring’s magic powers extend much farther. Although somewhat ridiculous in its magical extent, The Enchanted Castle provides plenty of realistic moments to keep the story, as a whole, grounded for young children. (more…)
Moonday by Adam Rex (Disney Hyperion, 2013) answers the question, “what would happen if the moon decided to stay in my backyard?” The town cannot wake up, the tide comes in to the narrator’s backyard, and they cannot hide the bright light of the moon.
I really enjoy Moonday because of the ridiculous and bizarre aspects. It feels like a dream: the story begins and ends with the narrator watching the moon out of her car window. It it she who has the idea to take it back up to the hill to leave it there. I love the silly details that make it feel more real than a dream: mom’s best tablecloth, the dogs howling at the moon, Mom saying “zip your coat” as the child walks on the moon.
Adam Rex has provided gorgeous paintings to complement the fantasy. Interestingly, the beginning papers and the end papers are simple sketches of the town: only in the midst of the dream are things realistic and detailed. I liked the style, I liked the fantasy, and I especially liked the neat resolution. Moonday is highly recommended.
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit is an Edwardian children’s adventure originally published in 1902. There are no parents or guardians to stop the fun, and the children know where to find fun! In this adventure, four children and their baby brother come across a sand-fairy, who is able to grant them wishes that last until sunset. But the sand-fairy does not like to give them wishes, and when the children make wishes, things don’t turn out as nicely as they’d hoped! (more…)