cover image Tickety Tock

Tickety Tock

Jason Robert Brown, , illus. by Mary GrandPré. . HarperCollins/Geringer, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-078752-3

Schmuel, a tailor, has been raised in “a little gray town” to value time for the possibilities it gives him to work. Racing alone through his life, ignoring a fantasy inspired by a girl's request to sew her a wedding dress, Schmuel labors for 41 years until a magical clock offers to turn back time for him: “One stitch,” the clock tells him, “and you will/ unlock the dreams you've lost!” Despite its promising elements and its author's expertise as a Tony Award–winning lyricist, the story fails to engage: the savor-your-time theme gives it a didactic flavor, even when the message is to enjoy your days, rather than turn them to profit. GrandPré's (Plum ) dramatically lit double-page spreads pry whimsical images from the text: clock faces fly, bubbles float loose as Schmuel scrubs a floor, and silhouetted hens form a chorus of scolds. Once the action starts, Schmuel springs to life, stitching away among a lot of digitally altered lace scraps: visual magic. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)