Apr 7, 2010

The Griffin and the Minor Canon

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

More opinions at:
Forgotten Books
anyone else?


Jenny said...

This looks like a darling little book! I love the cover art, and of course I'm all about anything illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It looks like it would be a great book to send to my grandmother - she loves reading aloud to all and sundry, and she has a massive collection of kids' books.

Hannah Stoneham said...

Sounds rather wonderful. i am sure that adults overlook children's books. Wonderful to discover your blog - thank you for sharing


Chandra said...

I am such a huge Sendak fan! I've never read this one though!

Jeane said...

Jenny- it's a wonderful little book, I'm sure your grandmother would love it!

Hannah- Thanks for stopping by. I have not read many children's books for my own enjoyment in years, but I could not pass up this one.

Chandra- Sendak is one of my favorite illustrators, too.