A CAT-TALE; LEGEND OF SAGENFELD; THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT by Mark Twain

A CAT-TALE; LEGEND OF SAGENFELD; THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three stories, appearing for the first time in separate editions, that feature Twain's trademark: a bittersweet blend of humor and satire. Younger readers may find The Legend of Sagenfeld most appealing: A prophecy compels young King Hubert to choose the animal whose song sounds sweetest; he chooses among various songbirds, rejecting the ass out of hand--until, stranded with a broken leg, he finds in the ass's bray the only hope of rescue. The animal becomes an honored member of the government and, the author concludes, still is. The satiric note sounds more loudly when The Stolen White Elephant, a gift from the King of Siam in the Queen of England, is recovered (dead) in the basement of a N.Y.C. police station--this after a heroic search by legions of detectives and the tendering of $100,000 in cash to steely-eyed inspector Blunt by the elephant's admiring keeper. Both books are appropriately illustrated: the former with simple, unsophisticated watercolors, the latter with hyperrealistic, deadpan, elaborately detailed paintings, In A Cat-Tale, the author attempts to tell a bedtime story to his two daughters, but is repeatedly sidetracked by their questions and comments. The language is florid and so filled with ""cat-"" words that the publishers felt obliged to provide glosses in the margins and an extract from a contemporary edition of Webster's. Scribbly b&w illustrations match two crude drawings that Twain himself provided for the piece. All three stories are handsomely turned out, but longwinded by modern standards and vanishingly slight.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1987
Publisher: Publishing Int'l--dist. by Publishers Group West (832 S. Stanley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036)