Reissuing James Thurber's ''The 13 Clocks'' -- ''New Yorker'' humorist's tale rivals any modern kid classic

By Ken Tucker
August 29, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

The great New Yorker humorist James Thurber wrote a few children’s books, the best of which may be The 13 Clocks, a 1950 tale of a wicked duke who thinks he has stopped time. Newly reissued, with an intro by Neil Gaiman — who calls it ”probably the best book in the world” — Clocks is the equal of any modern kid classic.

By the time he wrote The 13 Clocks, Thurber was too blind to provide his own usual scratchy but vivid illustrations, so he enlisted his friend Marc Simont to do the drawings. Simont provided beautifully cartoonish yet subtle mini-paintings that convey Clocks‘ varying moods of gloom, menace, surprise, and joy.