Great American humorist James Thurber’s beloved, madcap, and eerily timely fairy tale about an island society robbed of the wonders of the letter O—in a stunning Deluxe Edition featuring flaps, deckle-edged paper, and the original, full-color illustrations
Littlejack has a map that indicates the existence of a treasure on a far and lonely island, and Black has a ship to get there. So the two bad men team up and sail off on Black’s vessel, the Aeiu. The name, Black explains, is all the vowels except for O—which he hates since his mother got wedged in a porthole: They couldn’t pull her in, so they had to push her out. Black and Littlejack arrive at the port and demand the treasure. No one knows anything about it, so they have their henchmen ransack the place—to no avail. But Black has a better idea: He will take over the island and purge it of O. (“I'll issue an edict!”)
The harsh limits of a life sans O (where shoe is she and woe is we) and how finally with a little luck and lots of pluck the islanders shake off their overbearing interlopers and discover the true treasure for themselves (Oh yes—and get back their O’s)—these are only some of the surprises that await readers of James Thurber’s timelessly zany fairy tale about two louts who try to lock up the language—and lose. It is a tour de force of wordplay that will delight fans of Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss, Edward Lear, and Roald Dahl, and a timely reminder of how people can band together in the name of freedom to overthrow a tyrant.
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About the Author
James Thurber (1894–1961) was one of the preeminent American humorists and cartoonists of the twentieth century. Most famous for his widely anthologized short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” he was a contributor to The New Yorker for more than thirty years and wrote nearly forty books—collections of essays, short stories, fables, and children’s stories, including The 13 Clocks and the Caldecott Medal winner Many Moons.
Marc Simont (illustrations; 1915–2013) illustrated nearly a hundred books, among them James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks and a 1990 edition of Thurber’s Many Moons. He worked with such authors as Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (on the Nate the Great series) and Margaret Wise Brown and won both a Caldecott Honor and a Caldecott Medal for his illustrations of children’s books.
Ransom Riggs (introduction) is the author of the multimillion-copy #1 New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—now a major motion picture by Tim Burton—as well as its bestselling sequels Hollow City and Library of Souls and the companion volume Tales of the Peculiar. He grew up in Florida and now lives in Los Angeles.
“A perfect book for children and one every thinking adult should read. It’s a timeless story that can be read as a commentary on world affairs a half century ago, but that feels absolutely (and sadly) relevant today. . . . It accomplishes feat after feat of linguistic acrobatics: Not quite poetry, not quite prose, O is ear candy.” —Ransom Riggs, from the Introduction
“No one else could think up a fairy story, tale, legend, exercise, or what have you, based upon ‘O’ alone. Certainly no one else could bring it off if he had. Mr. Thurber, however, can, did, and does. No more worthy ‘O’ words could go before The Wonderful O than another O Wonderful.” —The New York Times
“A prodigious performance. As a medium in the great séance of letters [Thurber] is incomparable; he has only to utter an incantatory moan, and words levitate, phrases rap out unexpected messages, and whole sentences turn into ectoplasm.” —The New Yorker
“A tale for children, and a reminder for adults, of the joys of love, liberty, language, and, not least, humor. It has pirates and treasure and magic and a message that especially in complacent times must not be forgotten. . . . The Wonderful O is a book worth finding, wherever you can, and reading, as one of its characters concludes, ‘lest we forget.’” —The Wall Street Journal
“The loveliest and liveliest of parables. The end is a real surprise.” —Harper’s Magazine
“Hilarious . . . Thurber uses humor to explore what becomes of a society when something we use to communicate—to understand and to be understood—is taken away.” —The Weekly Standard
“Full of word lists and wordplay, with charming illustrations by Marc Simont, it is a verbally ambitious little classic for logophiles. Or, as the pirate would have it, lgphiles.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“Excellent Thurber. Besides being a highly original fairy tale and a rollicking linguistic gambol, The Wonderful O is a still further fable for our time—perhaps the best and most serious that Thurber has written.” —New York Herald Tribune Book Review
“Perhaps the worthiest contemporary fabulist in English. [Thurber’s] effects are almost musical. He gets us to laugh and gulp down another lesson in the value of human liberty at one and the same time.” —San Francisco Examiner
“Pure and unadulterated Thurber, and that means Thurber at his zaniest. Not since Lewis Carroll has such foolishness masked such wisdom; and besides, it’s a gale of fun from start to finish.” —St. Louis Globe-Democrat
“While ostensibly for children who will love its wit, its rhythms, and its free-flowing imagination, it will speak irresistibly to older minds and funnybones and, one might add, hearts.” —Boston Herald