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The Eleventh Hour

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  6,332 ratings  ·  266 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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The Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgAnimalia by Graeme BaseThe Mitten by Jan BrettStellaluna by Janell CannonThe Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base
Children's Picture Books With Beautiful illustrations
5th out of 1,123 books — 964 voters
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Best Children's Books
267th out of 3,404 books — 5,141 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
One of my very favorite books as an older child - my sisters and I poured over this book for weeks.
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
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
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
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
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
Sep 28, 2010 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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? :)
Daniel Saults
I have tremendously fond memories of this book from my childhood. For starters, as with most of his work, Graeme Base's illustrations are gorgeous. They're aesthetically pleasing, varied in style, and with intense amounts of detail. The latter is particularly important in this case! The story is a simple rhyming tale of an elephant who hosts a birthday party, with various funny little accounts of what he and his guests get up to until the big 11 o'clock feast. But they discover the feast has bee ...more
Kate Ballan
An 11 year old's imagination can get the best of them, let alone the fact that he is an elephant. In Graeme Base's detailed book an elephant turns 11 and throws a big party. He invites all of his friend, who are also various types of animals. They all get dressed up and go to this beautiful party with a huge feast. None of them are allowed to eat until the 11th hour, so in the meantime the have fun playing games. The ruckus of the games turns into some fights but all in all it ends in good times ...more
Julie Decker
This book, despite its appearance as a storybook, is actually more of a puzzle book, and there's a mystery to solve on every page. The premise of the mystery is that Horace (an elephant) is having a party for his birthday and everyone comes in costume, but then someone took the feast. Who could it be? The puzzles give us clues to figure it out letter by letter.

The genius of this is that it's fun to read even if you don't try to solve, PLUS it's in verse that isn't annoying, PLUS the pictures are
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.
Paige Cook
"The Eleventh Hour" by Graeme Base is a mystery book. It was Horace the elephants 11th birthday! Horace was celebrating his birthday with his friends. In the middle of the celebration someone ate the birthday feast! Throughout the book the illustrations provide clues and it's up to the reader to find out who did it!

The illustrations caught my eye. They were extremely detailed with a lot going on. The use of vibrant, bright colors catch the reader's eye. The words are under the illustrations with
Mia B
The Eleventh Hour is a cute mystery that you can solve. It is about an elephant named Horace who is having his eleventh birthday. He invite some of his animal friends over to play some games, party, and have a feast. When the animals first arrive down a beautiful hall, they notice a feast prepared by Horace. They had to wait until they were done playing to eat, pretty simple. When they return all the food was eaten. All the animals give their reasons on why they couldn’t have eaten the feast. Yo ...more
Ruth Ann
I read this book because it was mentioned in Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. The illustrations are amazing - full of period architecture, delightful animals in costume, and page borders specific to each scene. The rhyming text flows smoothly, describing the eleventh birthday party of an Elephant named Horace.

You would think with all of those strong qualities that I would enjoy the book, but I did not. There were just too many details and too many codes to figure out and I quickly became o
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.
I have given this book as an eleventh-birthday present to my daughter and niece and they both LOVED it! It's part story, part puzzle, and part mystery. There's also a coded message to solve with the answer cleverly sealed at the back of the book so that you aren't tempted to look too soon until you've solved it on your own.

All of the illustrations in each of Graeme Base's books are always gorgeous paintings and this is no exception. They are very rich with detail and are a beautiful variation of
Todd Hansink
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, '
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
For a curious youngster, this would be a perfect choice. Cool animals. Bright colors. Mystery! Parents certainly should be ready to help out a child with all the clues, some of which are quite obvious and visual, others are complex and coded.

There is a value in reading a less simplistic book, filled with rhymes and clues and creativity to a child. You can introduce complicated concepts, nuance, and develop a better relationship. Children learn to love learning, and how to study. High upside, lo
Kimberly Werner
"The Eleventh Hour" is an interactive (poetic) picture book for children 5-8 years old (primary) although, it is certain to be enjoyed by a wide range of readers. Horace the elephant has decided to throw himself a costume-themed birthday party and to invite 10 of his animal friends. He is shown in the hours before the party preparing a vast feast for his guests. When the time comes to eat, it is discovered that someone has secretly devoured the food, but who did it? The colorful, larger than lif ...more
This is a delightful mystery/puzzle book with gorgeous, detailed art. The basic gimmick is that somebody steals a birthday feast, and the reader is supposed to figure out who did it. It's not really a mystery per se, as one does not really look for clues or evidence so much as one must solve the various puzzles, involving coded messages, Base has hidden in the pictures. There's a page by page explanation at the end, pointing out everything and how to decode them. Great fun.
Dianne J.
Age of readership: Ages 9-12

Genre: Poetry

Diversity: Artistic examples from all over Europe, Asia and Africa

Illustrations: Beautiful, busy drawings full of examples of architecture from all over Europe, Asia and Africa, complete with some Roman cathedrals and places from Scotland as well as stone carvings from India. Each page is uniquely framed in art with Egyptian hieroglyphics, anagrams and Morse code and more.

My response to the book: Once I read this book I was reminded of my joy when I read
Calvin  Kwon
This book is a mystery. I still don't know who stole the feast because you have to decode something at the end but it's really hard. This book is really cool. Horace makes a giant feast and when the eleventh hour strikes, his friends go to eat but they get a surprise look cause the food is all gone. This is a big mystery. You should find out at the end of the book, they tell you what to do in the book but don't look at the answers.
Jecka Marie
I was fascinated by this book as a child, and I remain so to this day. It's sort of hard to put into words why certain books made an impact on me as a child. I just loved everything about it: the illustrations, the colors, the story, the intrigue...and the overall "WOW" factor when I had finally put some of the pieces of the mystery together. (My sister and I agreed to never break the seal in the back to reveal the solution, but I'll admit it...I peeked by pulling the pages open a bit. I bet she ...more
I did it! Without help! And it only took a few hours! (Using the elimination method, and spotting and decoding most of the clues. I completely didn't think to realise that in a book all about the number eleven, (view spoiler) )

A very clever book. Every single detail is there for a reason.
Christina Fisher
This book is written by the same author as Anamalia, and is equally as beautifully illustrated with tons of details. The difference is that this is a mystery, so readers have to look at each picture very carefully to find clues about who stole all the food at Elephant's 11th birthday at 11:00. Readers of all ages will love this book, because it is captivating and engaging at every turn.
Wendy Toney
Graeme Base is a wonderfully descriptive writer as well as artist. This book is fantastic for kids of all ages. The story is a mystery of which party going animal ate the feast. Through puzzles and clues, some easy others difficult, you try to deduce who did it! I loved this book and will keep it to eventually read it to my future grandchildren.
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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 about Graeme Base...
Animalia The Water Hole The Discovery of Dragons The Sign of the Seahorse Uno's Garden

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