The Secret of Old Zeb

Overview

After he is packed off to stay with his Great Aunt Hortensia ("the Warden"), while his parents pursue their dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Walter fears that he is in for the worst summer ever. But then he befriends a mysterious neighbor, Old Zeb, a lonely grizzled sailor who builds ships in bottles. Full color.

Disappointed when his parents go off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and leave him behind with his Great Aunt Hortense, young Walter encounters mystery and ...

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Overview

After he is packed off to stay with his Great Aunt Hortensia ("the Warden"), while his parents pursue their dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Walter fears that he is in for the worst summer ever. But then he befriends a mysterious neighbor, Old Zeb, a lonely grizzled sailor who builds ships in bottles. Full color.

Disappointed when his parents go off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and leave him behind with his Great Aunt Hortense, young Walter encounters mystery and intrigue when he meets Old Zeb, a shipbuilder with a secret dream.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Things are not what they seem in this tale within a tale, a new collaboration from the creators of The Library Dragon. When bored Lila asks her old Uncle Walter when her parents will return, he relates the story of when his own parents sent him to Boston for the summer while they pursued their dream of climbing Kilimanjaro. While languishing at his great-aunt's home he meets Old Zeb, who makes ships in bottles but lets Walter in on his true dream, his "G.S.P." (Great Secret Project)an enormous ship he's building in his cellar. Although the text is occasionally weighed down when Zeb shares platitudes such as "Some dreams are too big to be kept in bottles" or "We all have a compass inside.... It's the part of us that points to what's right and sure and true," there are flashes of humor in Deedy's likable tale. In White's highly stylized paintings, witty details (an omnipresent one-eyed parrot; a ship's figurehead in the image of Walter's feisty great aunt) and clever visual foreshadowing (steam from a tea cup forms a ship sailing skyward on the endpapers) abound. The surprises here (like Old Zeb's ship bound for the stars and Walter's secret rocket) may just prompt children to ask their elders to reveal their own secret dreams. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly
Old Uncle Walter relates a childhood story to his bored niece about Old Zeb, who made ships in bottles and let Walter in on his true dream an enormous ship he was building in the cellar. "There are flashes of humor in this likable tale," said PW, "and witty details in the highly stylized paintings." Ages 6-10. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Cheryl Peterson
Walter Higgins is a little, but scrappy, kid with a large imagination. His parents left on an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro leaving Walter with his Great Aunt Hortensia. Walter's lost and miserable until he meets his neighbor, Old Zeb. Old Zeb makes ships in a bottle and Walter is convinced he is a pirate and a smuggler. Old Zeb shares his G. S. P. (Great Secret Project) with Walter and, along with Great Aunt Hortensia, helps him discover his own dreams. Each chapter consists of one page of text that ends with a cliffhanger, and is accompanied by detailed parchment illustrations that add to the humor and suspense of the story. Children will want to keep reading to find out what happens next!
School Library Journal
Gr 2-3Disappointed at being left with her Uncle Walter while her parents are away, Lila is reassured by his story of the summer he was left with his Great Aunt Hortensia. One night, he spotted an old sailor carrying a mysterious sack to the house next door. When the man caught young Walter spying on him, he shared his secreta full-sized ship in the cellar of the house. Together, over the summer, Old Zeb and Walter put the final touches on the great ship. Meanwhile, rumors circulated that Old Zeb's daughter was coming to take him away to live with her. Walter then discovered that both the old man and the ship had vanished. Looking for them in the harbor, he found his parents instead, and witnessed Old Zeb's surprising departurefor the ship was meant to fly, not to sail. Walter concludes his story by inviting Lila up to his attic, where he reveals his own secret project. This unique book is a Victorian adventure novel condensed into picture-book format, complete with single-page titled chapters and illustrations framed and labeled as if they were great oil paintings. The "follow your dream" moral is prevalent throughout the text and reinforced by the dreamlike quality of the illustrations. Behind the talk of adventuring is a reassurance that even though adults have their own dreams and adventures, they still love and return to their children.Tana Elias, Meadowridge Branch Library, Madison, WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561451159
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Pages: 36
  • Sales rank: 298,521
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 12.32 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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