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  • Momo
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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change

on 5 March 2011
I read a copy I borrowed from a library and loved it (Michael Ende has an amazing imagination). But I was shocked to find that this version (which I ordered for my Dad's birthday) is in the original German, though it is not indicated on the website. So, unless you're fluent in German, don't make the same mistake as me and buy a version which you know is in English.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 January 2016
Perhaps it is entirely appropriate that a book about the virtues of wasting time and the risks of being constantly driven and goal oriented has a meandering feel to it. Loading the book with digressions, asides, and tall tales, the author takes his time as he sidles up to his main themes. And that's all to the good, because the dreamy, fantastical and yet eminently practical guidance offered here is suited to a slow, playful and whimsical approach.

We start with an introduction to Momo, her friends, and her peculiar ability to "listen well". We meet her two best friends, a teller of tall tales and a slow, thoughtful philosopher/streetsweeper. Once we have Momo comfortably situated in her village, the "grey men" arrive. They steal the time they need to survive from others, leaving those others worn out, distracted, and exhausted by their hectic and empty lives. Momo, with two new companions, must defeat the grey men and return the people's time to them. Understand that "time" in this context generally means leisure time or "unproductive" time devoted to socializing, playing, relaxing, day dreaming and the like. We learn that without this sort of time, then producing, achieving and consuming are meaningless.

On one level this is a time travel adventure book, but that's like saying "The Wizard of Oz" is a travelogue. The time travel and the adventure mostly serve to allow our heroine, Momo, to meet people and to discuss things. Momo is in the classic style of the "wise child", and there is much in the bones of this book that reminds one of the gentle humor and pointed commentary of books like "The Little Prince" or "The Phantom Tollbooth". And make no mistake, this book is a pretty pointed, obvious, and rather sharp indictment of the hectic lives of acquisition and excess we now live.

While Momo and her friends and companions are interesting, it is the writing, (and especially the dialogue), that I found particularly engaging. Ende has a way of heading straight toward "sappy" and then pulling back or veering to deliver a fresh, or even startling, unexpected line. The upshot is that this is more than a clever fairy tale and more than an "indictment" of modern, (circa 1973), life. It is a kid friendly, adult friendly, cautionary tale couched in fairy tale conventions, but with real style and grace and humor. This is pretty elegant stuff.

A BIT OF HOUSEKEEPING. This book suffers very much from Amazon's lack of care in identifying different editions, publishers, and even languages. This book was originally published in German in 1973. An English version was published in 1974. A new English translation was published in 1984. Many and various other editions, in various languages, have been published over the years since. The version I read was published by McSweeney's in hardback in 2013 as a 40th anniversary edition and is being released by them in paperback in 2016. It has a new translation by Lucas Zwirner. The cover has clock faces for the two "o's" in Momo and shows a little girl in a blue coat holding a turtle, while grey men pass behind her. I read and reviewed the McSweeney's edition. Be careful if you order from third party sellers; you might end up with any version in any language. (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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on 14 November 2003
I read this book in the original language, german, and I found it amazing! It's comparable with "le petit prince", and that's really something! I hope everyone who buys it will have the same joy as I had when reading it. But you should be warned: You might not get much sleep at night... You just wanna keep on reading...!
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on 26 July 2010
Momo is the story of a girl who is basically a kind of muse. She can listen to people like no one else can, and by talking to her, people realise their own problems and solutions and find some inner peace. She can inspire the imaginations of children (and a storyteller) around her, without really doing much herself. She lives in the ruin of a Roman coliseum, and is visited by friends and neighbours.

And then one day, the grey men arrive, and start to steal the world...

It is a fascinating fairy tale. There are tales within tales (one of my strongest memories of tales is the one about the emperor who decided to build a better world, but his raw materials had to come from somewhere, so he used up our world...), there are magnificent flights of imagination, there is a magical, wonderful tortoise, and there is just about enough surreal in the story to be something I would consider genuine, stimulating art, but not enough to freak me out. (I am not usually a fan of the surreal - but it worked beautifully in this story)

The resolution is not quite as wonderful as the rest of the novel, but it is a wonderfully written story. I have no idea whether it was ever translated into English (or whether the translation is good, like Cornelia Funke translations, or bad, like the Neverending Story translation). If you speak German and like children's literature, read this. It's wonderful.

(The Mario Adorf movie really creeped me out as a kid though, and I did not really like the Momo of the film)
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on 19 December 2000
Michael Ende has a talent for picking up slight shifts in societal norms and conveying them in a clear and insightful way (one has to remember that he wrote this in 1973!!). I read this book in the original German, and would recommend the same to others who understand German, since some things are lost in the translation. This is a book for all ages and is timeless in it's philosophical message. A must read for everyone. It is definately up there with Alice in Wonderland as far as classic books are concerned. It's message is desperately needed in a time like now, when people have less and less time to devote to the real joys in life...like friendship and family. I give it the highest recommendation.
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on 22 May 2013
I read this book when I was a child, in Spanish, and I wanted to read it again in English.
I am very pleased with the customer service from River City Books, they have been very helpful!! I would definitely recommend buying from them and, of course, I highly recommend this book to anyone, both children and grownups!
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on 8 April 2016
Most international readers will rather know the author's "Neverending Story" (because of the cheesy movie adaptation), but this book is at least as good, and one of my favourite childhood readings.
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on 7 February 2011
As with The neverending Story, this one is meant for kids, but can be read by adults as well.
Good plot, well created characters, well written.

I like it.
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on 6 April 2014
Brilliantly written, much much more than a children's novel. Everybody who's always in a hurry should read this masterpiece. Highly recommended.
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on 18 April 2016
Nice to read, away from the daily world, together with your inner child.
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