A few months ago I had the pleasurable experience of being kidnapped by my family, wrestled into the room of my older daughter, Diana, smooshed down on the bed, and held still to hear them read aloud a book that all three of them—both daughters plus my husband–agreed was the best book. No qualifiers, no hesitations, total agreement among three very different readers. Just…the best book.
The book? This:
They read the first two or three chapters, and then something happened—bedtime or dinner or something—and we had to stop and then the book was somehow lost and we couldn't get back to it or find it or anything. Vanished.
Over the next few months they all, especially Chestnut, kept asking "Did you read The Thirteen Clocks yet?" And I had to keep saying, "No, do you know where it is?" or "No, did you finish your homework?" and it just kept…not working out.
Until last week.
Last week the book mysteriously appeared on the coffee table. I grabbed it but no, Chestnut was rereading it. I had to wait, but I kept my eye on it, and a few days later there it was, all mine. I took it with me on the subway, and the first thing I did (which is a thing I NEVER do) was read Thurber's introduction, which is so completely wonderful it makes you feel better about everything even if the person next to you on the subway smells really bad. It seems he wrote the book as a lark. And that is just what it feels like.
The book? It's just fun. And delightful. And bizarre. It's perfect for reading aloud to a small person (or a large one, such as myself), or for taking off with you somewhere to enjoy all on your own. It's silly and thrilling and comforting and surprising. It's a wonderful thing to read. Is it the best? I feel like I can't even tell, I can't come up with that sort of overall judgment in the whole world. But at the same time, my family's pretty smart. So I'm pretty sure they're not wrong.
At any rate, you ought to try it.