Lazar, Tara

Time Flies: Down to the Last Minute

(2) K-3 Illustrated by Ross MacDonald. In the third punderful picture book (7 Ate 9, rev. 5/17; The Upper Case) featuring Capital City's dogged detective Private I, clocks and watches are disappearing, the time-strapped letter citizens are increasingly wound up, and Private I is ticked off. The nostalgic palette of the digitally assembled watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations enhances the mood of this not-so-hard-boiled noir spoof. The lively letter characters steal the spotlight with their distinctive features (a goatee on T, an apron on B) and stick-like cartoon arms and legs. Viewers may figure out the culprit before I does, as Z is pictured in plain sight running away with the gumshoe's wristwatch early in the story. The real question remains: why steal time? Thanks to an ingenious, low-tech plan, I nabs the thief in broad daylight, and the clock-napper reveals his motive: by making the other letters late, Z hopes to finally go first. The sympathetic letters explain that life isn't all that perfect earlier in the alphabet (A is sleep-deprived, for example), and the Grammar Police take a remorseful Z away "to serve hard time." This book's wordplay and visual humor are just right for the intended audience; time is sure to fly with Time Flies in the story-hour mix.


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