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The Twelve and the Genii Beneath a floorboard in the old farmhouse into which his family has just moved eight year old Max Morley discovers twelve time worn wooden soldiers Under his careful watch the Twelves come to life each possessing a name and a distinct personality As Max soon learns they share a history filled with incident and adventure all an imaginative legacy of the famous Brontës Branwell Charlotte Emily Anne who were the soldiers' original owners In its mix of invention excitement character and literary history The Return of the Twelves occupies a rare place in children's literature Its gripping narrative and engaging figures make it perfect for young readers of ten and up


10 thoughts on “The Twelve and the Genii

  1. says:

    I'm sorry I didn't know about this book as a child I think it would have been a favorite It is very much in the tradition of classic British children's fantasy a la E Nesbit and Edward Eager Moving to a new house near Haworth young Max finds a set of wooden soldiers hidden in the attic Once the possession of the Bronte children the soldiers have taken on the identities from the Brontes' youthful stories and come to life The plot is charming and gentle and Clarke portrays the modern children's personalities and relationships very convincingly There are some gems here for adults as well I loved eight year old Max's attempt at cultural relativism If he were an Ashanti king the first person he would sacrifice would be Anthony Gore He knew that it was wrong to make human sacrifices but then if were an Ashanti king in those old days he would not know this so it would be all right He supposed When they knew better they stopped doing it Max wondered if they missed it very much My one major complaint is not with the author at all I have the first American edition by Coward McCann 1963 I hope they are or were since I think they were absorbed by Penguin properly ashamed of the inexcusably sloppy job they did printing this There are several places in the second half where text is suddenly cut off skipped or replaced with text that was already printed on an earlier page Big chunks that I don't see how any proofreader could have missed like one page ending a paragraph and the next starting mid sentence This happened enough that I did actually miss a couple bits out of the story


  2. says:

    I read this book as a child during one of my many days scrounging in the yummy musty library of the town i grew up in Gillions of years later when I had my own children I had no idea what the title was although I never forgot the Young MenThis is why children’s librarians are crucial to our survival After the fight to fund San Francisco’s libraries I stood in my branch feeling a tad foolish asking “Yeah a story about some little soldiers who are alive?” to which the librarian said Oh yes; that would be The Return of the Twelves”I love this book Maybe it could only happen in ancient Britain where every reasonable village church is at least 800 years old and full of delicious pagan alchemy and every village ghost’s adventures are well known and recorded studiously Like The Racketty Packetty House the locale in my mind of the first Burning Man festivalBut the children who find the Bronte’s toys about whom they wrote delightful tales and far flung adventures and which come alive than a century later are real I won’t argue this point with you They’re alive Awful greedy adults are too as are adult allies those whose eyes can recognize magicJane 10 years old “Girls are much carefuller than boys they keep their things longer too and they sort of can’t bear to throw things awayeven though I don’t play with them any longerIt’s because girls love things longer”In response Max age 8 “I thinkthey may love them for longer I don’t know but they couldn’t love them ”


  3. says:

    This is a dear little book that I read because of the Brontë connection and loved because of Butter Crashey


  4. says:

    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 classichttpuploadwikimediaorgwikipedia


  5. says:

    I wish I had known this book my whole life or at least the semester I took Children's Literature I would have voted for this book when we were deciding what our last book for the semester should be I was hooked the moment the first wooden soldier said his name was Butter Crashey Max the young boy in the story who finds the soldiers was perfect he didn't overly annoy me or seem too grown up like in some children's books He invented words got sad when people teased or didn't believe him but he seemed real or at least what I'm used to in kids Even in my favorite children's books the main child can be overly obnoxious rereading some of them that semester made me wonder how we put up with them while reading I also wondered if I would've read Jane Eyre sooner in my life which I loved had I read this book I have the tendency to want to read whatever it is they are talking about in another book or movie or whatever the case may be especially if talking about it positively Would I have read by the Brontës and will I now? Maybe this will make me of a Brontyfan a word in the book that disappointingly had nothing to do with dinosaurs I had read most of this during the day at work while we were slow and was able to lose myself in the book which I try not to do at workoften I had to finish I only had a few pages left when it was bedtime and it had me on the edge of my seat if I had been sitting At some point in your life you feel too grown up to read kid's books I'm glad I'm past that stage in my life Give 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


  6. says:

    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


  7. says:

    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 GondalIn 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 homeYou needn't know anything about the Brontes to enjoy The Return of the Twelves though it's even enjoyable if you do 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


  8. says:

    This review also appears on my blog Read at Home MomMax Morley has just moved into an old farmhouse when he discovers a set of twelve wooden soldiers hidden beneath a floorboard At first he thinks they are just old toys but when he begins to hear them speak and see them move he realizes there is nothing ordinary about them In discussions with Butter Crashey their leader Max learns that the twelves were once owned by four genii whose imaginations gave them a long history of adventure and battle The four genii turn out to be the Brontë siblings Branwell Charlotte Emily and Anne and the soldiers are so valuable and sought after that several parties would love nothing than to take them from Max Thankfully though the Twelves prove to have their own ideas about where they belongI did not plan ahead of time for this project to include so many Carnegie Medal books but this is another one The Return of the Twelves won the award in 1962 Though I normally would scoff at a book about sentient toys this one drew me in right away Max is a very believable and real character and his relationships with his parents and siblings are similar to those most children have with their own families He handles the magic of the wooden soldiers in a way that makes sense to kids because it is how they are likely to imagine they would act in his position The soldiers themselves are great fun to observe in action and the ingenious ways Max looks after them without letting on that they are not completely independent are engaging and often funnyI took a class in college where I was assigned Wuthering Heights and I remember my professor providing a lot of background on the Brontës during the discussion but of course I've forgotten the details and can't find my notes Thankfully though this book doesn't reuire any knowledge at all of any of the Brontës' writings Max himself wonders for a good portion of the book why his new neighbor calls himself a brontyfan and his interest in learning about the Brontë children and the childhood writings that chronicle the adventures of the Twelves stems entirely from his love for the soldiers Readers might also take a sudden interest in reading The History of the Young Men after enjoying this book but they don't have to have any prior background knowledge at all to appreciate the story of Max and the soldiersIt's been a while since I've felt I could truly lose myself in the world of a book but The Return of the Twelves gave me that experience I was with Max throughout the story and only once was I pulled out by a detail that didn't seem to fit One of the soldiers talked to a rat and the rat talked back As this was late in the story and no other talking animals had been introduced this really annoyed me But I don't tend to like talking animals very much so I acknowledge that this might be a uirk which is specific to me This is a book which holds up very well considering its age and which all literary minded families will want to share and enjoy together


  9. says:

    I'd never heard of this book before reading about it in How the Heather Looks A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books It's a delightful story about a young boy discovering the twelve wooden soldiers of the Bronte children Sure to charm a reader of any age who enjoyed books like Mistress Masham's Repose The Borrowers and The Indian in the Cupboard Particularly appealing for those who have an interest in the Bronte juvenilia45 stars


  10. says:

    Exactly what a children's book should be extraordinarily imaginative includes interesting historical facts without hitting the reader over the head and magical I only wish I'd gotten to read it as a child


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