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The Eleventh Hour

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  7,583 Ratings  ·  320 Reviews
When Horace the elephant turns eleven, he celebrates in style by inviting his exotic friends to a splendid costume party. But a mystery is afoot, for in the midst of the games, music, and revelry, someone has eaten the birthday feast. The rhyming text and lavish, detailed illustrations each provide clues, and it's up to the reader to piece them together and decide whodunit ...more
Hardcover, 39 pages
Published 1993 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1988)
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WhiteHeather Older elementary aged children will really enjoy solving the puzzles. I'd say third or fourth grade and up. Younger kids will still like the…moreOlder elementary aged children will really enjoy solving the puzzles. I'd say third or fourth grade and up. Younger kids will still like the illustrations and story, but they'll probably have a hard time figuring out most of the clues in it, which may be frustrating for them.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Hannah Greendale
Sep 18, 2016 Hannah Greendale rated it it was amazing
Don your favorite costume and join Horace the elephant in celebration of his eleventh birthday. Bring your magnifying glass and your suspicion too, for a mystery awaits in The Eleventh Hour.

Graeme Base's curious tale of a birthday party gone awry is a visual treat. Eleven animals arrive for Horace's party, all bedecked in costume:

The Pig came as an Admiral, the Zebra as a Punk.
The Rhino was an Astronaut, his spacesuit made of junk.
The Swan arrived as Princess Pure, a most enchanting sight.
Be
...more
Kaethe
Jul 09, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
In their dotage the Offspring will still be talking about their crazy mom having a signed first of this that she would read to them, but wouldn't let them touch until they washed their hands.
Ann
Jun 08, 2010 Ann rated it really liked it
Here is a story about Horace's (an elephant) eleventh birthday party, and apparently there's a mystery to solve! The mystery isn't revealed until near the end, and the book definitely requires that you look back through it to solve the mystery.

Overall, mystery hunting aside, I enjoyed this book, the fun characters, and the whimsical, jam-packed illustrations! For a rhyming book, the rhymes were really pretty good! I didn't find myself tripping over the rhythm or words hardly at all!

For the mys
...more
Adam Floridia
Feb 18, 2016 Adam Floridia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
The other day, my son brought this home from my parents' house. I remembered it as one of my favorite children's books--and it didn't disappoint. This who-dunnit mystery is teeming with hidden puzzles, many of which I couldn't even solve today (morse code, musical notes, and more). I had so much fun re-"reading" (more like "puzzling over") this that I ordered seven more of Base's books--ostensibly for my kids.
Lauren
Jan 11, 2015 Lauren rated it it was amazing
One of my very favorite books as an older child - my sisters and I poured over this book for weeks.
Allie
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I did a program based in it for tweens last year and it was amazing (albeit sparsely attended, but it's a tween program so any attendance is great!). Any time any person expresses any interest in puzzles (coworkers, kids, parents, strangers) I leap up and offer them this book. I love introducing kids to anagrams and pigpen ciphers, because I distinctly remember my elementary school library helping me as I pored over this book as a weird 5th grader. I had so much fun!
midnightfaerie
Nov 11, 2014 midnightfaerie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
One of the most amazing illustrations I've ever seen in children's books. Can't believe I've never heard of Base before now. The pictures are so detailed and there are hundreds of things going on in them, you could just look for hours. In this case, there's a mystery to be solved and some really fun clues to be looking for in the pictures. Not easy enough of a mystery for a small child, but just tough enough for my 1st grader, and it kept me interested too! The clues are hidden in the pictures a ...more
Luann
Sep 11, 2010 Luann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a book! I had read this before, but that time I didn't make the effort to look for clues, solve the mystery, or even read the solution. I always planned to come back and spend more time with this book, so I'm glad I finally did! This time I read the book, looked for clues, deciphered many of the hidden messages, and solved the mystery before ever reading through the solution pages! And wow, the solution pages pointed out many clues I hadn't even noticed. Although some of those clues ar ...more
Brandy
Oct 13, 2014 Brandy rated it it was amazing
Ok this may be the coolest kids book ever, if you have a smart kid who likes puzzles or codes. It took us two or three HOURS to solve the book. It was so exciting that we did it in one sitting, working like mad. It is that absorbing. He did solve it, but we had to resort to a hint off the internet to find the swan's name. I'd say a smart 8 year old and up can do it, maybe with some help. Besides being super fun, the book is also lovely. My kid is now enjoying looking back at the amazing illustra ...more
Jaksen
Feb 01, 2016 Jaksen rated it it was amazing
This was a gift for my then, twenty-year old daughter. She loved it. One of her favorites.

Who says all kids books have to be read to, or bought for kids? :D
Maureen
Oct 17, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
In this "curious mystery" by Graeme Base, author of Animalia,
Horace Elephant invites 11 friends to his eleventh birthday party. After a great deal of elaborate preparation, games, and sport, the awesome feast prepared by Horace is stolen! Which guest was responsible for this heinous crime? The brilliantly embedded clues and breathtaking illustrations contribute to the clever rhyming tale in this modern masterpiece.

No elementary school classroom or personal library is complete without The Elevent
...more
Amy
Feb 28, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
This is a good mystery story for older young kids. My niece and I read it together, and we enjoyed the story. I pre-read the book before I read it with her, and I admit, I had to "cheat" and look at the key in the back of the book to discover the answer to the mystery. I don't think that the clues presented themselves very readily, and that's a good thing in a mystery. If this were an adult mystery, I'd think it was great! In a *children's* mystery story, however, maybe a few *slightly* more obv ...more
Megan
Sep 28, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children
Recommended to Megan by: Judy
My mom bought this book for my sisters and I after the illustrations caught her eye in a local bookstore. She brought it home, and we had a lot of fun reading it together, pouring over the beautiful illustrations, and trying to decipher the mystery.

When Horace the elephant turns 11 he throws himself an elaborate birthday party, and invites all of his other animal friends to join in the fun. There are games, costumes, and of course an elaborate feast that Horace himself had prepared. Unfortunatel
...more
Jessica Rawden
This book is great for kids who are into mysteries, clues, and decoding. Even better, this is great for kids who are into awesome illustrations. Even better, even better, this poem features some pretty sweetly rhyming pages. I was shocked. I owned Animalia as a kid, but didn't realize Graeme Base could be a pretty good writer! Secret aside for parents: If your child is not a decoder, figure out the mystery ahead of time, or look it up on the Internet. Luckily, the "help" pages are now taped toge ...more
Becky B
Sep 13, 2012 Becky B rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those tired of silly rhyming books, All ages, Mystery lovers
A combination mystery and picture book in rhyme. It is extremely rare to find such a skilled and creative illustrator/poet that makes children's books. I remember working on solving all the different puzzles hidden in this book with my siblings when we were young. It took us quite a while, but we felt very accomplished when we figured them out.
Garren
Sep 16, 2014 Garren rated it it was ok
I'm just not a big fan of animals in human clothing, but I did like how much is going on in each of these paintings at the surface level. Intrigued by all of the codes lurking in the background. Might take a shot at solving this without consulting the Internet. If kids can figure it out, surely I can, right? :)
Melissa Coyle
Wonderful rhyming, rhythm, and story! Superb artwork! A story filled with merriment and mystery. How did I miss this one for my children. This book will sure to spark the brain cells of any youngster.
Cara Hinton
Jan 02, 2016 Cara Hinton rated it really liked it
Very clever book that will entertain for hours. Illustrations are magical with hidden clues, and drawings. So much in this little book that could absorb (especially a child) for very long periods of time.
Juli Anna
Nov 29, 2016 Juli Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-ya
My husband grew up with this book and, although I loved Animalia as a kid, this book was not in my collection. The two of us spent a couple of nights over the Thanksgiving break working out this mystery--what a fun way to pass an evening! The mystery here is simple enough for an older child to figure out with a little parental guidance, but the clues in code are quite difficult. There are so many beautiful and funny details hidden in the illustrations, and the whole concept is extremely well car ...more
Toby
Nov 06, 2016 Toby rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Using the messages and codes hidden in the illustrations, can you solve which of the guests stole the feast? Some puzzles are simple, some are quite challenging. Some may even require you to do a bit of research (although you don't need to in order to solve the mystery).

Great fun to read, and one I'm looking forward to sharing with others. I wish I had several copies to hand out!
Heather
Feb 18, 2017 Heather rated it really liked it
I've had this book for years and have read it a few times, but now that I'm older and wiser, I was able to solve the riddle. I recommend it to anyone who likes to figure out puzzles.
Sarah
Jan 03, 2017 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This book kept me fascinated for hours upon hours when I was little. Every time I read it I discovered something new on every page. Love it.
Alex
Nov 05, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it
Okay. I literally spent 5 hours reading this book. 5 HOURS! Okay, okay... it was probably more than 5 hours. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I spent FOREVER trying to figure it out and follow/decode all the clues... and I still had to use the cheat sheet in the back to figure out who the thief was.
Looking back, it seems so obvious... sigh.
Graeme Base, you are freakin' amazing.
Mitchell
Jan 06, 2017 Mitchell rated it really liked it
Over the top art. But wow there is so much going on. Between the main story and the games and the mysteries. The extra text in the back is pretty well written. I expect that the right kid could spend days with this book and learn a lot about codes and hidden messages and so forth. It's too much and too hard but I'm also too old. 3.5 of 5.
Caitlin
Mar 11, 2017 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
<3 this book! Straight out of my childhood and I figured out the mystery! It only took me 16 years. . .
Douglas
Jan 02, 2017 Douglas rated it it was amazing
Why aren't there more books like this? Perhaps it requires a curious combination of childlike appreciation and "puzzle patience". This is a paragon of book making, completely and in all ways delightful. We spent hours on this together.
Maelin Long
The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base is a wonderful mystery picture book for children. When Horace, the elephant turns eleven he plans a grand affair. Friends are invited, party games are chosen and a beautiful birthday feast is made. The day of the party arrives and all of his friends show up in their best costumes. Throughout the day, they all play the different games waiting for the eleventh hour when they can finally devour the feast. To their horror, the eleventh hour comes and the feast is gon ...more
Cara
May 14, 2011 Cara rated it did not like it
Oh my goodness, I did not like this book. I had such high hopes for it, but it failed miserably. I had to read this for my children's lit class in college, and I hated it.

Basically, this is a picture book in which some animals get together for a party, but one of the guests eats their food and it is up to readers to figure out which guest did it by looking for clues in all of the pictures. Sounds good, right? WRONG! Most of the clues ended up being completely irrelevant, and lots of the clues w
...more
Kelly Eggen
Apr 07, 2016 Kelly Eggen rated it liked it
Horace the Elephant is planning a spectacular party for his 11th birthday. He plans all sorts of games and events, such as pool, chess, and tennis. The most important part of the party, however, is the giant feast that he promises to feed his guests on the 11th hour. Once the time to feast arrives, all of the food is gone! Every guest denies stealing the food, but someone has to be lying. Who could commit such an atrocious act?

This book is unnecessarily long, meaning that about half of the pages
...more
Todd Hansink
Jul 12, 2009 Todd Hansink rated it it was amazing
If the world were keeping track it would know that my wife has probably set some kind of record for reading to our children. But, alas, the world doesn't keep track of and remunerate such behavior.

Rarely do I get a turn to read to the kids but whenever I do get a turn I often choose this book. The kids are captivated by the amazing artwork while I am more impressed with the sophisticated rhyming. Call me simple, but I love good rhyming. Here is an example from my favorite page:

The Zebra said, '
...more
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Graeme Rowland Base is a successful Australian author and artist of picture books that have been sold internationally. He is perhaps best known for his second book, Animalia published in 1986, and third book The Eleventh Hour which was released in 1989.
He was born in England but moved to Australia with his family at the age of eight and has lived there ever since. He attended Box Hill High School
...more
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