The Return Of The Twelves (Pauline Clarke)

pauline-clarke-bookGive me a good book for any age range, I’ll read it, but there’s definitely something different about the feelings a children’s book can evoke in you! Branwell Brontë’s father once gave him a set of wooden toy soldiers, which Branwell and his sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne played with and wrote stories about, which eventually became masses of childhood writing about the kingdoms of Angria and Gondal. In The Return of the Twelves, a boy named Max discovers the soldiers and finds out that they’re alive.

The imagination of the Brontës endowed the toys with names, personalities, and histories of their own. Max and his sister Jane cherish the soldiers and play with them as the Brontës did, until word gets out that they’ve been discovered, and Max and Jane must figure out how to keep them safe and restore them to their rightful home. You needn’t know anything about the Brontes to enjoy The Return of the Twelves, though it’s even more enjoyable if you do. A love or knowledge of general English history and geography would also help.

Author Clarke provides all of the necessary information in the text, and the true joy of the book is her imaginative portrayal of the soldiers themselves and of Max’s relationship with them, as he insists on not treating them just as toys and allowing them to control their own destiny. One of the very best children’s books I’ve ever read. Beautifully conceived and written, and the author has done a splendid job of bringing the twelve to life in a way that never once panders or condescends to it’s targeted child audience.

The English countryside – a small village – toy soldiers that come to life – the Bronte’s – there is something for everyone. This story is endearing, suspenseful and humorous. I didn’t want it to end. I thought the young protagonist “Max” was a perfectly realized boy. The relationships with his family were spot on. This is a fantasy and an adventure and simply can’t believe that it isn’t held up and universally celebrated as a classic.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: