Schmuel lived in a little gray house
On a little gray street
In a little gray town called Klimovich.
And from the first minute,
The first second he was born,
Everyone told him to hurry up!
And so begins the story of Schmuel, a boy who hurries his whole life through . . . until a magic clock gives him all the time he needs to follow his dreams. This lyrical tale by Jason Robert Brown, whose Broadway shows have garnered rave reviews and numerous awards, is paired with Mary GrandPré's spectacular artwork to create a magical story about taking the time to appreciate the world around you.
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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.