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Thirteen O'Clockby James Stimson
Synopses & Reviews
This is the story of a very normal girl on an almost normal night in a fairly normal house — normal, that is, except for a not-so-normal clock whose numbers count not twelve but a spooky thirteen.
James Stimson's extraordinary book about the antics of a perky prankster in pajamas is a feast of words and pictures. Filled with sly wordplay, atmospheric illustrations, and a baker's dozen of spritely, spooky, spunky characters, it reminds readers that more fun than fright can be had from things that go bump, bong, groan, clatter, squeak, and gong in the night.
"What happens when the clock in an old house strikes thirteen? 'Atop the mysterious old clock/ a hidden hatch flipped./ And upon the freaky 1st of thirteen o'clock's tones,/ from it sprang a spriteful fright.' Newcomer Stimson (who worked on the animation for James and the Giant Peach) weaves wacky word webs as he calls the roll of 13 strange creatures that emerge from the clock. They move 'sneaking sneakily.../ creeping creepily.../ to the small girl's room at the end of the hall.' Is she in for a terrible shock? No! It's the creatures' turn to be frightened 'when the ghoul crew realized that the uncanny culprit/ behind the bewildering plot/ was the prankster in pajamas, their small friend, not a fiend.' Stimson's pencil illustrations appropriately take shape in shadowy black and ghostly white, with only shades of olive and brown for color. The creatures liberated by the clock appear as flat geometric shapes, big blockheads with dots for eyes and little sprites with antennas and stick feet. Whirling winds wail through the scenes, and plenty of typographical pyrotechnics — crooked typesetting, large and small fonts, and occasional hand-lettering — add visual punch. Stimson's free-associating free-verse and bold use of an eclectic, alliterative vocabulary ('Is it a peculiar pendulum with a precarious pivot?') make this a fine read-aloud choice — at any hour of the day or night. Ages 3-7." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[An] entertaining, deliciously quirky chronicle....[A] delight for wordsmiths....Innovative designs and varied font sizes add to the fun of this offbeat offering." Kirkus Reviews
"...Stimson's Thirteen O'Clock definitely isn't a rehash of pumpkin path lore or silly gore. Oh no. It's so much more." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"Spooky and strange enough to last long past Halloween, this tale...can raise goose-bumps." Children's Literature
"Quirky and offbeat, this story is unlikely to find an audience." School Library Journal
About the Author
James Stimson is a freelance illustrator who has worked extensively on film animation (he was the cut-out character designer for the film version of James and the Giant Peach.) He lives in Northern California and this is his first book.
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