(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!

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

  1. I loved The Sign of the Seahorse by Graeme Base when I was little and have picked this one up at a thrift store for my girls. Haven’t read it to them yet, but I’d say my four year old is about old enough for it!

  2. I always check out your book posts when considering books to buy for my nephews (5 and 3 years old) and my daughter (3 years old). This will be a Christmas present for the oldest one, who loves to solve problems! Thank you. 🙂
    Mikaela recently posted…31 Days – The EndMy Profile

    • Great! I wish I could post them more often. I write the titles down on post-it notes, but I never have enough hours in the day.

      I think your nephew will love it.

  3. Very cool recommendation. Also, so many of my nights’ best laid plans are sabotaged by the effect of kid’s bedtime! I am such a sucker for going to bed that I can rarely resist the temptation to put myself to bed after lulling the kids to sleep. It was particularly bad when I taught school. I had such a hard time waking back up when piles of grading loomed over me.
    Adah recently posted…Nickel Tour // The CoopMy Profile

  4. Very late comment but I just saw this post under the most current one I was reading. I LOVED “The 11th Hour” when I was a kid and just got my cousin’s two little boys this book and “Animalia” for Christmas. Amazing stuff. Love your amazing recommendations for kids books. And on the newer post, can I just say that I am so excited for your house addition! Cheers – CT

    • Yeah! And thanks – we’re excited too.

      I’ve tried twice to go to Roots & Blooms – the first time it was still closed for the season, the second time it was open, but when we got out there it was closed early due to the cold. Hopefully third time’s a charm!

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