THIRTEEN O’CLOCK

A film animator for James and the Giant Peach makes his children’s book debut with this entertaining, deliciously quirky chronicle of a “ring-rackety clock-oddity” that chimes at 13 o’clock and a small girl in a “fairly normal house” who “thought it all quite nice.” Suspense builds with each bing, clank and toll of the clock: “The next horrifying chime numbering 9 / led to a curious clatter numbering 10, / the tenth tone to a horrendous number 11! / And with each haunting cue there came another / more horticulturally hideous than the other.” Internal rhyme, alliteration and whimsical wordplay abound, making this poetic story a delight for wordsmiths and a rather hypnotic read-aloud for the younger set who may not yet revel in sentences such as “Is it a peculiar pendulum with a precarious pivot?” Stimson’s stylized pencil illustrations, mostly black-and-white but tinged with mildew-green, recall Lane Smith’s work and crawl and swirl with spriteful frights, pumpkin creep sisters and other spooky sorts. Innovative designs and varied font sizes add to the fun of this offbeat offering. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8118-4839-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

CHRISTMAS TAPESTRY

This longer Christmas story centers on an embroidered tapestry purchased to hang in a church for the Christmas Eve service. As with many of her works, Polacco (When Lightning Comes in a Jar, p. 665, etc.) sets her story in Michigan, this time in wintry Detroit. Young Jonathan resents his family’s recent move from Tennessee to where his minister father has been reassigned to renovate an old church and revive its congregation. Through a series of Dickensian trials and coincidences, the tapestry is purchased to cover some water damage to a church wall, and an elderly Jewish woman (and Holocaust survivor) whom the family has befriended recognizes the tapestry as the one she made in pre-WWII Germany for her wedding ceremony. In an ending worthy of O. Henry, the repairman who arrives on Christmas Eve to inspect the water damage turns out to be the woman’s long-lost husband (each thought the other had died in the Holocaust), and the devoted couple is reunited. Polacco succeeds as always with her watercolor-and-pencil illustrations in creating unique, expressive characters who seem to have real lives in their snowy city streets, cozy living rooms, and busy church. The gentle, reassuring message, suggested to Jonathan by his kindly father, is that “the universe unfolds as it should,” even when we don’t understand the pattern of the tapestry. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-23955-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GINGERBREAD BABY

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more