The Wonderful O by James Thurber
Illustrated by Marc Simont
Finished: Apr. 30, 2009
First Published: 1957, New York Times Review edition Mar. 31, 2009
Genre: children, fantasy,
Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
Somewhere a ponderous tower clock slowly dropped a dozen strokes into the gloom.
Comments: Two pirates meet in a tavern one with a map, the other with a ship. Off they go to find the island called Ooroo and a hidden treasure. Once they arrive we find that one of them hates the letter "O" and while they take over the small island looking for the jewels they decide to forbid the existence of the letter 'O' in writing and speech by the inhabitants. This causes immense problems as one can imagine.
On the top this is a silly little story with a lot of fun wordplay while underneath it is a story of the fight for freedom. A fun romp that children old enough to manipulate the removal of the 'O's in words will surely enjoy. The message underneath is clear enough and one roots for the islanders to rid themselves of these treasure-hungry dictatorial pirates. Marc Simont is not one of my favourite illustrators as he does get into doing some awfully dark blotchy shadowy paintings but fortunately they appear only a few times in this book. His sketches on the other hand have a delightful comic appeal to them and are completely entertaining. This is a classic children's book and I advise waiting till the child is old enough to read on his own as the wordplay looses its effect when read-aloud. Not Thurber's best children's book, as I can remember that would be Many Moons, but certainly a fun romp for the older kids by one of America's greatest humourists.