Friday, April 01, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Eleventh Hour -- Graeme Base

This is a picture book with a solve-it-yourself mystery that proceeds in rhyme. The solution to the mystery is available in a sealed section in the back of the book, but of course you wouldn't want to cheat and look at it. After all, this is a kid's book, so you should be able to figure it out. Right?

As you can probably tell from the cover, Base presents some wonderful illustrations to accompany the verse, and you don't have to look too carefully to see the picture in the center left that attracted me to the book in the first place. The gator judge gets some nice face time inside, too.

The story? Horace the Elephant throws himself a birthday party, but someone steals the feast he's prepared. The clues appear in the illustrations, which were inspired by Base's travels through Africa, Asia, and Europe. Cathedrals, palaces, stone carvings, and so on all have hidden messages in the form of anagrams, heiroglyphics, and even Morse code. It takes a smart kid (or codger) to figure everything out. Trust me. But even if you can't figure things out, the pictures are great and worth having the book for all by themselves.

7 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

My grandson would love this. He actually thinks the world starts and ends with animals.

George said...

I love Graeme Base's books! Surreal and clever, they're not just for kids.

John said...

I've never seen or heard of this. But it reminds me of MASQUERADE by Kit Williams, a book that also had a solve-it-yourself mystery that led to an actual buried treasure. There was a minor scandal involved as to who was the true discoverer.

Todd Mason said...

Patti--he and essentially the Old Testament!

As you might know, Bill (and George and John), Australian Base has had an Aussie animated series based on his ANIMALIA books that was running on PBS, but ceased just a month ago...so I expect it has already or will soon pop up on one of the cable children's channels.

Evan Lewis said...

On behalf of us kids, Thanks, Mr. Bill!

Yvette said...

I own this book, Bill. What a great choice! I bought if for myself years ago mainly for the illustrations which are quite wonderful. But the puzzle is a doozy as well.

Julia Madeleine said...

Great artwork.