The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery

The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery

4.6 19
by Graeme Base

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When Horace the elephant turns eleven, he celebrates instyle by inviting his exotic friends to a splendid costume party. But a mystery is afoot, for in the midst of the games, music, and revelry, someone has eaten the birthday feast. The rhyming text and lavish, detailed illustrations each provide clues, and it's up to the reader to piece them together and decide


When Horace the elephant turns eleven, he celebrates instyle by inviting his exotic friends to a splendid costume party. But a mystery is afoot, for in the midst of the games, music, and revelry, someone has eaten the birthday feast. The rhyming text and lavish, detailed illustrations each provide clues, and it's up to the reader to piece them together and decide whodunit!"The fun of poring over the pictures is matched by the enjoyment derived from the textwitty, ingenious verses." — Publishers WeeklyGraeme Base is the author of many award-winning books for children, including Animalia (Puffin), The Sign of the Seahorse, and most recently, The Discovery of Dragons.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in Base's Animalia , his lush, intricately detailed illustrations in The Eleventh Hour comprise a sort of visual hide-and-seek. Here, the stakes are clues to the solution of a mystery: Who has surreptitiously eaten the feast prepared for Horace the Elephant's 11th birthday party? The culprit could be any of a number of exotically costumed animal guests, from a pig dressed as an admiral to a pair of giraffes in tutus to a zebra gone punk. The fun of poring over the pictures for hidden messages and significant particulars is, happily, matched by the enjoyment derived from the text--witty, ingenious verses that ably skirt the singsong or mundane. It will take an exceptionally persistent sleuth to deduce the thief's identity; many readers may resort to breaking the seal to the ``top secret'' solution. Thus enlightened, those returning to the scenes of the crime may still find some clues difficult to discern; in particular, the large number of concealed ``mice'' are almost impossible to make out. But it is, as Base points out, the thrill of the chase that matters most; and on this count the work scores high marks. All ages. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Barbara Disckind
The same creative, expressive talent who created The Sign of the Seahorse: A Tale of Greed and High Adventure in Two Acts has created this mystery of words and images. Which of the eleven invited guests stole the food for the birthday party for Horace, the eleven-year-old birthday elephant? Eric the zebra? Max the Bengal tiger? Kilroy the mouse? Hidden with elaborately detailed illustrations are clues, some so encrypted as to be nearly impossible to unravel. Oh-so witty text, done in rhyme, is even more delightful when read aloud. "The cakes had turned to scattered crumbs, / no cream was to be seen, / And nothing now remained where once the Chocolate Mousse had been./ The Centrepiece had toppled, / not a strawberry was left. / 'But who', they cried, 'could possibly have managed such a theft?'" Fortunately for this reader, the answer-and even more important, a guide to the clues-is revealed in a special section at the back of the book!
Children's Literature - Marilyn Bagel
Little and big sleuths alike will delight in this ingenious clue-filled creation from the author of "Animalia." When Horace turns eleven years old, he gives himself a grand party. But there is mischief afoot, and it is up to the reader to discover the perpetrator. Through a series of clues cleverly buried in the plot as well as in the book's sumptuously lively illustrations, we are led Columbo-style down the road to discovery. But it's not an easy journey, and that's what makes it fun. If all else fails, the author has graciously offered his extensive explanation of each clue at the back of the book, not to mention a glimpse into how his mind works-which is in itself a fascinating voyage. Consider this aerobics for the brain. It's a good workout!
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-- This picture book is a puzzle mystery written in verse. When Horace the elephant turns 11, he decides to throw an elaborate birthday party and invites 11 friends. The animal guests arrive in costume, and entertain themselves with a variety of activities until it is time to eat. When the 11th hour arrives, however, they are horrified to find that the entire feast has been eaten. All guests protest their innocence, and Horace comes through with sandwiches to save the day. What remains is for readers to discover the culprit. ``The Inside Story,'' a sealed section of pages containing the solution to the mystery and explanations of the plethora of clues and puzzles in the book, follows the story. Intricate watercolor and acrylic paintings in vibrant colors crowd each page, assaulting readers with activity and detail. Both text and paintings are framed by black-and-white decorative borders that provide still more detail. After either breaking a code through careful observation (very, very careful, one must assume) or checking ``The Inside Story,'' readers will uncover the identity of the villains. They are hidden everywhere: in the borders and in the body of the illustrations, but only very patient, persistent children will be motivated to detect every one of them. --Corinne Camarata, Port Washington Public Library, NY

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Picture Puffin Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.31(w) x 12.25(h) x 0.17(d)
AD1070L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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Eleventh Hour 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a mystery book where there are plenty of red herrings. We were figuring it out in class and it took FOREVER!!! It is for people who look very CAREFULLY at most things. There is almost a clue everywhere.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a language arts teacher, I read the poem aloud to my 8th graders, and they thoroughly enjoy being in groups to discover and present their clue. Clues are presented in order (played on an insturment for some), and the class catches the thief together. The theory of deduction is then used to introduce Sherlock and Watson for more detective fun on another level. Great for inductive learning practice.
Heather_Atlanta More than 1 year ago
This book works on so many levels. The drawings are incredibly detailed and colorful. The story is cute and simple on first glance. But then the deeper story - the mystery - and the clues on each page introduce young kids to codes and other neat things that schools don't teach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dunnettreader More than 1 year ago
My six-year-old grandson loves this book--and all books by Graeme Base. He can study a page for half-an-hour, looking at all the details. Base's books are intricate and filled with small details that will delight you.
hazel2 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book from a used bookstore for $2 ... what a find! I'd never heard of Graeme Base but now I am a solid fan. Tonight I read this book to my four year old daughter and we were both entranced! It is written in solid, easy-reading rhyme and the illustrations are amazing. We will read this book many more times, I am sure, with just as much enjoyment as the first!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Graeme Base did it again when he wrote this timeless classic. This is a book for any age, with hidden clues leading to which animal stole a precious feast. Graeme Base both wrote and illustrated this book, which only makes it more unique. Little children may need help when reading, for the words are rhyming and hard to understand for a elementary student. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the BEST BOOK EVER!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was hard but,Graeme Base used very good illustrations.He did a good job hiding the clues and his research for the book was good!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story I will give a thumbs up! With outstanding illustration and detail, I along with my 8-year old, read this book again and again. I especially liked the end, when you have to go within the book to count the many, many, mice that are hidden throughout. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading to their kids and seeing the excitement in their little eyes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've bought it, and I just have one word to say: INCREDIBLE!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am currently taking a Childrens Literature class at college and this was our introduction to detective books and units for kids. We spent a day with partners looking at the pages and figuring out the mystery on our own. I thought it was very entertaining and I think this book is for anyone of any age. There are so many hidden things in the book, it's fun to see if you can find them all
Guest More than 1 year ago
I know it says grades 3-6, but anyone, I mean anyone, who reads this book will love it. I first read this book in kindergarten, and still read it with as much enjoyment today. The words are great, the illustrations are amazing, and the mystery is intriguing, even for those who know the solution. (Hint: Do NOT Cheat!) This is the best, Best, BEST children's book ever. Anyone who gives this book less than 5 stars must have skipped a page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
On Hores' 11th birthday, he deceides to have a dress up party. Everything goes well untill someone from the party stole the magnificent feast. Who was it? You discover the mystery
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is a delight. A gift to my son at age five, he requested a reading tonight at age ten (along with his six-year-old brother). I always comply, as I enjoy the rollicking text as much as they do. They both enjoy inspecting the amazing illustrations and by now have found every mouse. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My children, ages 7 and 8, absolutely LOVED this book! In the beginning, they worried that it might be 'baby-ish' since the story revolves around a birthday party attended by a cast of animals. Believe me, this is NOT a baby book (although the beautiful pictures entertained my 1-year-old as well). Once again Graeme Base has drawn a facinating piece of art in rhyme and used vocabulary that I strive for my kids to learn! The clues to the mystery of who stole the birthday feast are creatively hidden throughout the book and require a real quest, even on the part of adults. This is a very entertaining and brain-stimulating adventure.