Daily Archives: December 11, 2014

(story)time: The Eleventh Hour, A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base

Eleventh HOur

This week is starting to feel like the eleventh hour. We’re in that place where the holidays are still far enough away to feel like we can actually finish all the things that we plan to do beforehand, but close enough to them to understand that if we don’t act on some of those ideas right now the window of opportunity is going to shut soon. I’m spending a lot of time in that eleventh hour this week, feeling warm and drowsy during the bedtime reading and rituals with the girls, and then waking myself back up again to get to work.

For the past month we’ve been methodically working our way through the girls’ bookshelves, book by book without skipping. It’s been fun to do this – we’ve rediscovered a lot of books that we haven’t read for awhile.

Last night we read The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base, and I wanted to tell you about it because it is one of my very favorite books.


Horace, the elephant, is turning eleven, and he plans a huge party to celebrate, complete with an incredible feast to share with his eleven guests. But before they are allowed to dine (at eleven o’clock), there are party games to be played. The illustrations in this book are incredible – you may know some of Base’s other books like Animalia and Enigma – and the whole story is told in rhyme.


After the games are played, the feast is served… except the feast is nowhere to be found. There is a mystery to solve, and the clues are well hidden – in codes and hieroglyphs and patterns throughout the intricate illustrations. We first checked this book out from the library when E was four or five. M and I didn’t realize at first that there was a mystery to solve. On our own, one night, we puzzled it out on paper. It’s not an easy solve, but it’s so very fun to do.

This would be a fantastic gift for a child between six and ten. Younger kids can still completely enjoy the story, but the older ones will really enjoy cracking the codes. Even E still comes into the room to listen to it being read. We all know who did it… but we won’t tell!

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!