Friday 26 June 2020

Read in 2020 - 14: Die Zwölf vom Dachboden

Die Zwölf vom Dachboden
Pauline Clarke

I remember having seen this book many times at the school library when I was a kid, but it never interested me enough to borrow and read it. What's different now?
Recently, I have been reading a biographical novel about the Bronte family and watched a matching DVD; my reviews for both are here. And in April, during this walk with my sister, I came across the book quite by chance, and of course couldn't leave it there.

It is the German translation of the book "The Twelve and the Genii" by Pauline Clarke, an English author who died in 2013. 
First published in 1962, it tells the story of the twelve toy soldiers the Bronte siblings owned and which sparked their literary efforts. The four children made up an entire fantasy world for their soldiers, giving them individual names and character traits, and wrote miniature books and magazines for them, detailing their history and adventures. 
For them, the soldiers were real people and very much alive, and that is what happens when 8-year-old Oliver* finds them in the attic of the old farmhouse in Yorkshire where he has just moved with his family.

At first, the tiny wooden men come alive only for Oliver. He does not know about their origin, but then he learns more and more about the Bronte family from nearby Haworth, and does not doubt that these are indeed the soldiers that once belonged to the siblings.

When an American professor offers a lot of money and wants to take them to the USA, Oliver knows he has to act - the soldiers' home is the parsonage in Haworth, and that's where they should be.

This is a children's book and the story was easy enough to guess at from the start, but it was a nice read although I was not too keen on the descriptions of the soldiers' parading up and down the attic and their aggressive thirst for military adventures. Still, I enjoyed it, and do not consider the 2 € I spent on the book a waste.

I guess this will be the last of my Bronte-related reading for a while; there are two new books on my TBR pile waiting for me, on very different subjects.

* Max in the English original - I wonder why his name was translated; Max is a perfeclty good name in German, too.


  1. I send my Great grand daughter books but am not sure about this one because of its military content, but I shall look out for it for myself - it sounds fascinating.

    1. The story itself is beautiful, Pat. Does not every child imagine that dolls and other toys come alive, and what it would be like to take care of tiny people? I loved The Borrowers as a little girl.

  2. I agree with Pat. This books sounds fascinating!

    1. It is, Bonnie. I love (re-)reading children's books.

  3. This sounds like a lovely book. Unfortunately my library doesn't seem to have a copy and it is rather expensive online. But I will know about it now, and if I ever come across a copy......

    1. Maybe it will become available at a reasonable price some time. Do your granddaughters read German, Kristi?