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*Thirteen O'Clock* by James Stimson

Thirteen O'Clock
by James Stimson
ages 4-8 40 pages Chronicle Books August 2005 Hardcover    

This is a fabulous book with wonderful artwork and an innovative concept: a quirky clock that actually chimes at thirteen, quite unlike the ordinary timekeeper that only runs from one to twelve. Stimson’s brilliant illustrations are reminiscent of popular animated films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.

Peopled with the eccentric faces of unusual characters, the chime of each hour reveals something (or someone) new: “a spiteful FRIGHT who would have seemed more at home with his name on a tombstone”; a skeleton with a skeleton’s key to “unlock the odd clock’s small door to free his MONSTROUS friend, the THING”; “four ghosts with frightening groans (in their stomachs).” Page after page, “with each haunting clue there came another, more horticulturally hideous than the other.”

Stimson’s elaborate and dense illustration feature black, white and dark green, with huge letters for emphasis, bursting with images as the clock unleashes a series of “things” and tongue-twisting alliterations, “hollow and echoey, and exceedingly eerie.” This wildly imaginative book is spectacular, perfect for anyone who appreciates oddball humor and clever language (even adults!), a vocabulary stretcher to trip the tongue and leave you laughing. My one (very minor) criticism is that at times the type is difficult to read against the black page. But who cares? This book is a delight.

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  Luan Gaines/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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