Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Review: The Wicked Tricks of Till Owlyglass by Michael Rosen
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: October 2nd, 2014
Till Owlyglass (Till Eulenspiegel) is a boy who was special from the day he was baptised three times. But not in a good way. Not in a way his parents liked. He was always in trouble for his rudeness and practical jokes, and grew up to be the most outrageous trickster in Germany. Everyone told stories about him... and they still do five centuries later.
The Wicked Tricks of Till Owlyglass is a very unusual book that was first published in 1990. It contains stories all about Till Owlyglass, a German trickster, known there by the name Till Eulenspiegel. Apparently the stories about him have been doing the rounds for over five-hundred years, and he's become something of a legend. Personally I think he's a bit weird and creepy looking, but entertaining all the same!
This book is split into fourteen days, or stories, which sees old man Horst telling two little boys the tales of Till Owlyglass. It's illustrated by Fritz Wegner, and makes for a quick book that doesn't have to be read all at once. I read it over a couple of days so I could savour these twisted stories, which I think made me like it more.
Till Owlyglass is mischievous right from the day he's born, soon being kicked out by his mother and travelling the world alone. He meets a varied range of people throughout his life, most of whom he tricks and, in all honesty, steals from. I like his pranks and tricks for their cleverness, but I do think Till is quite mean at times, particularly when it comes to breaking shop windows. He doesn't seem to think of the consequences caused by his actions, and in some ways he comes across as more evil than trickster.
Prior to reading this book I'd never heard of Till Owlyglass, but I certainly have now. These fourteen stories made me laugh and shake my head in disbelief, which I think is the point of Till: he's ambiguous for all of his life; people don't know whether to trust him and they don't know what to make of him. Personally I can't say I'm a fan of everything he does, but I appreciate his ingenuity.
The Wicked Tricks of Till Owlyglass is a strange read, but one that I think children will like due to its naughty nature. Michael Rosen has written Till's stories well, most probably slightly modernising them and ensuring these old tales live on through new generations. I don't think we'll ever truly know if Till Owlyglass really did exist all those years ago, but if he did, it's safe to say he'll never be forgotten!