This July we asked readers to tell us about some of their favorite classic books. Krysta starts off the event with a look at a lesser-known work by Howard Pyle.
Goodreads: The Wonder Clock
Howard Pyle, famous children’s author and illustrator, presents twenty-four fairy tales, one for each hour of the day, along with illustrations. Each tale is preceded by a short verse by his sister Katharine Pyle.
The Wonder Clock is a collection of traditional fairy tales, as well as some of what Tolkien would have classified as animal fables. They follow the traditional patterns–a younger son outwits the older sons, a prince falls in love with a princess but must complete a quest to earn her hand in marriage, a crafty fox or other animal tricks his friends for monetary gain. Some may not like tales in these veins–princesses who do little more than encourage the hero or provide him with aid are not well-liked at the moment. Nor are ugly women depicted as evil. But fans of the traditional stories will find here something to satisfy them.
It’s true after awhile the tales seem repetitive–have we not seen an animal get his friends into trouble already? But this is the nature of the fairy tale. We know already that the fox will try to eat the goose, or that he will try to take all the food for himself and leave the bear nothing. Predictability and familiarity are exactly what you what in a old-fashioned tale.
The verses preceding each story are less satisfactory, however. They are generally rhyming poems that depict mundane moments in the life of people in a house. They are, I submit, boring. This is the second time I have read this collection and this time I skipped the poetry altogether. There’s really no reason for it to be there.
Altogether, however, The Wonder Clock is a marvelous collection of fairy tales. Just the right thing when I am looking for something that reminds of Lang’s Fairy Books.