by Frank R. Stockton
I don't usually write about children's books here, but this one is such an old favorite I sat down to read it again immediately after finally getting my own copy from Paperback Swap. And then I wanted to tell you about it!
The Griffin and the Minor Canon is a short story by Frank Stockton, and my favorite edition is the one with lovely illustrations by Maurice Sendak. The minor canon, a young clergyman whose only humble desire is to serve the poor and needy, is suddenly pushed into the center of attention when a fearsome griffin decides to visit his town. The beast wants to see a griffin statue that is on the church, and the frightened townspeople send their minor canon out to meet the monster. The griffin is pleased with the statue, and spends most of the day just admiring it. But he finds the company of the sensible clergyman even more pleasing, and starts to follow him around on his duties. This quickly becomes an unmanageable situation, and both the upset townsfolk and the encumbered clergyman try to find a way to make the griffin go back to the wilderness. Of course, it doesn't work out the way they plan. What I really love about this story, besides its interesting turns, is the characters: the conniving townspeople, driven by fear into anger; the honest and sensible canon, always quietly doing what is best; and the proud, fierce griffin, who has his own sense of justice. If you want a quick little read, or a book to read to a child that has more depth than most, you can't go wrong with this one.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 56 pages, 1885
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