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

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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

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THE TRUE GIFT

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan offers a quietly moving Christmas story that illustrates the power of children to change their world. Lily, the first-person narrator, and her younger brother, Liam, spend every Christmas vacation at their grandparents’ farm. Liam wants to buy a cow as a companion for the family’s pet, White Cow, who seems lonely out in the field by herself. By Christmas Eve, Liam has raised enough money to buy a calf companion, but there is also a Christmas surprise of several cow visitors brought by neighbors to keep White Cow company for the holiday. MacLachlan uses her typical taciturn style featuring dialogue and minimal description to convey the intense feelings of the sensitive little boy trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. Floca’s delicate, full-page pencil illustrations complement the text with understated emotion. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9081-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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