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The Box of Delights (New York Review Children's Collection) Hardcover – October 23, 2007
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“This witty and wonderful children’s novel by the onetime Poet Laureate of the UK is widely beloved on the other side of the pond, but lesser known here. A travesty, that, since it’s a magic box in itself: a magical adventure that begins with a boy on his way home for Christmas, stopped by a man who implores him, 'And now, Master Harker, of Seekings, now that the Wolves are Running, as you will have seen, perhaps you would do something to stop their Bite?' Enter wizards and witches, mice, Roman soldiers, the toughest little girl you’ll ever meet, and Christmas just might be saved after all.” —Flavorwire
“The book that always had the magic of a snowy English Christmas…. It’s still a lovely book, magical and funny, to be read by anybody of any age.” —The Horn Book
"This classic of English children's literature, sadly overlooked by most on this side of the Atlantic, has just been reissued in a beautiful edition by the New York Review Children's Collection...Although "The Box of Delights" was first published in 1935, Masefield's intoxicating prose has lost none of its pull...in this wonderful tale of bravery and intrigue that deserves to become another staple of the holidays." --The San Francisco Chronicle
"First published in 1935, The Box of Delights by John Masefield is newly available. In the adventure-laden Christmas story, Kay Harker (also the protagonist of Masefield's The Midnight Folk) returns from boarding school for the holidays and becomes involved in a struggle with a wizard and witch who wish to possess the eponymous box." --Publishers Weekly
"This uniquely imaginative tale would be a delight for fans of old-fashioned, English Literature and could be compared to the likes of A Christmas Carol and the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." --CLEAR Reviews
“[Masefield’s] most popular children’s book…Original and remarkable.” –The New York Review of Books
“Masefield's novel, a plum pudding of strange adventures, English legend, and spiritual feeling, should be more widely appreciated” –The Washington Post
“The Box of Delights' is based on a 1935 story by famous English poet John Masefield, and it's crammed full of fantasy and adventures, almost as if every known children's story had been combined in one. There's space travel and time travel and evil villains and holiday sentiments and adventures, adventures, adventures.” –The Seattle Times
“Every chapter in this book is marvelous, but the real delight derives from Masefield’s style and the idiosyncratic, colorful speech of his various characters…Lovely stuff.” –The Washington Post
“This book is a writer’s oft-raided treasure trove…the world’s best ‘crossover book’…It does time-travel better than Narnia…The story floats on brilliant, eccentric dialogue and…never loses its snowy-Christmas, Nutcracker enchantment…” –The Independent (UK)
“Masefield the children’s writers is unbeatable.” –The Daily Telegraph (UK)
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Top Customer Reviews
As the first reviewer has already given an exhaustive precis of this work I will just add that it is a delightful Christmas thriller and the BBC TV version is a wonderful and faithful retelling of the story.
A forgotten classic - among the 10 best children's thrillers, IMHO.
The BBC turned it into an excellent 6-part TV series which, although dated in its magical effects, is still extremely enjoyable. The production was also transferred to video tape (about three hours in length) and as far as I know is still available. We had no trouble obtaining our own copy a few years ago, anyway. In our house (where there are no children!) it has been viewed every Christmas ever since it was released on New Zealand television. With its 1930s Christmas setting of the English countryside shrouded in snow (and a wonderful story of villainy outwitted by children) it makes perfect Christmas viewing. But of course the book is always better than the movie! Borrow it from your library if a copy is available there.
Since I wrote this review the BBC television adaptation has become available on DVD and seems to have gathered quite a following. From reviews I see here, this seems to be an abridged version. Definitely make sure you get the original version!
The fascinating thing is the counter point this sequel to "The Midnight Folk" offers, while this fantasy is centered at the Christmas/Solstice/Yule season with all the magical symbolism that entails, the "Midnight Folk" offers a wonderful autumnal Halloween/Samhain mood. You will note that I combine the Christian and pagan holidays, Masefield does a masterful job blending these rich folkoric elements that will delight both children and adults. The verbal imagery is breathtaking as you can feel the sharp wind and icy needles our main character Kay feels while out in a winter's night skulking to find the answers to the mysteries of the titled box of delights. The villainous Abner Brown is both hilariously inept and frightening at the same time.
As the other reviewer noted, though a sequel to the "Midnight Folk" this work stands solidly on its own. I encourage you to track down a copy of this neglected masterpiece of children's fantasy.
Follow Kay on his Christmas adventure!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been looking for an unabridged copy of this that I could afford for ages.
Why on earth anyone would abridge it in the first place is beyond me. Read more
Love this book, bought to give to a family last xmas.. my British grandmother bought this for me when I was a kidPublished 2 months ago by buyguy
The Box of Delights (1935) by John Masefield is a miracle and a masterpiece of magical literature. I admit to getting lost in the narrative. Read morePublished 5 months ago by I. Sondel
An amazing book, beautifully bound. A real treasure. A magical story perfect for Christmas.Published 10 months ago by Emily H
I like it, but I wanted to like it more. The story itself is great, so magical and very festive for christmas time. Read morePublished 13 months ago by kt vb
Very much a product of its time - the world of social deference and comic policemen can have you yearning for something very painful to happen to Master Kay but that's the nature... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Morgan
Magical - the essence of mystery, fantasy and joy.
Don't miss it. This used to be broadcast at Christmas in England, and should be again.
Arrived in good time. The book was in good shape. I can remember viewing this on PBS many years ago as a part of the Wonder Works Series and, since the VHS or DVD is not... Read morePublished 23 months ago by glister