Thirteen O'Clock

( 1 )

Overview

This is the story of a very normal girl on an almost normal night in a fairly normal housenormal, 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 ...

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Overview

This is the story of a very normal girl on an almost normal night in a fairly normal housenormal, 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.

As a mysterious old clock strikes thirteen, monsters and ghouls appear looking for a snack and a little mischief at the expense of the small girl who lives down the hall.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A film animator for James and the Giant Peach makes his children's book debut with this entertaining, deliciously quirky chronicle...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...Innovative designs and varied font sizes add to the fun of this offbeat offering." -Kirkus Reviews

"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." -Publishers Weekly

"With illustrations that'll remind adults of a Tim Burton animation, and prose that feels like Seuss from the dark side, 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

Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Spooky and strange enough to last long past Halloween, this tale of a small girl's adventures on a "fairly normal night, in a fairly normal house" can raise goose-bumps. The old clock in the house has a number thirteen, and as it strikes that number, strange and weird events begin to occur. Stimson enjoys playing with sounds, in both the story and the language he uses. Meanwhile, a Fright appears, a skeleton unlocks a door to free his friend the Thing. The clock mechanism runs away. "Dreadfully dissonant and traumatically toned" chimes bring "a slithery, a spidery, and a fluttery leathery," while others evoke ghosts and "horticulturally hideous" things. But the "monstrous mayhem" finally comes to a screeching, peaceful end. The visual tale is thrust upon us in almost helter-skelter fashion in tones of soft-penciled grays and blacks with subtle borders and infringements of darkish greens and browns. Pages are sometimes filled with boxed scenes and flying objects with free-form words—in a variety of type faces— cascading down. A surreal realm of dreams has us seeking identification of odd things and details, while the almost kindergarten drawing-sketched girl has no problems with any of it. 2005, Chronicle Books, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This is the tale of a small girl, a house filled with otherworldly creatures, and a clock that strikes the "exceedingly eerie number 13!" The well-delineated and detailed pencil illustrations, which are predominantly in black and white with touches of green, burgundy, rust, and gold, are intriguing, and the text-in a variety of typefaces and sizes-is innovative but the two together don't mesh into a real story. The shadowy pictures, which are Tim Burtonesque in style, would appeal to grade-school children but there's not enough of a plot to capture their interest. There is a rhyme scheme of sorts, but it doesn't flow easily and makes the book difficult to read. Also, the number 13 is unlikely to strike terror into the hearts of children as the author/illustrator presumes. Quirky and offbeat, this story is unlikely to find an audience.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811848398
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,137,174
  • Age range: 1 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet 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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Customer Reviews

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