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13 Words Hardcover – October 5, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Look Inside 13 Words
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Mezzo-Soprano Vanilla cake with chocolate icing and candles

From Publishers Weekly

Based on an unlucky number of key words and authored by someone who takes pleasure in unfortunate events, this volume conjures a sense of foreboding. "Word Number 1: Bird" introduces the central character, and the accompanying illustration pictures a royal-blue bird perched on a linen tablecloth, in a yellow-and-pink dining room that might have been painted by Matisse. The bird's eye droops sadly, whereupon readers turn to "Word Number 2: Despondent" and "Word Number 3: Cake," an item that might alleviate a bird's ennui, at least temporarily. Despite ominous beginnings, the proceedings turn upbeat with the arrival of a chic "Word Number 4: Dog," who concocts witty diversions for the gloomy bird. Kalman's eccentric gouaches elevate the wintry mood; the dog, with his sly grin, resembles Kalman's Max, particularly when he tries on hats at "Word Number 9: Haberdashery." Sprinkled with additional vocab words like "spiffy" and featuring surreal landscapes in ice-cream hues, this word-association game recalls Kalman's solo productions. The conclusion, however, belongs to Snicket, because "the bird, to tell you the truth, is still a little despondent." All ages. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061664650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061664656
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We checked this book out of the library for our three year old. What a surprise! She laughs all the way through it, and especially loves the fact that the baby runs the haberdashery. From an adult pov, it is creative, fun, surprising, and the words are fun to say. I'ts the kind of book that makes you love language. From my daughter's point of view, it is silly--and there's nothing she loves more than silly. This book respects the child.
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Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this book by its title because I have a nephew who loves learning new words, but when I finished the book, I was completely hooked. The surprise and absurdity of the story and the lively illustrations drew me into the strange world of the sad bird and her friend the dog as though I myself were a child seeing the world for the first time. The book is filled with interesting words and visual details that make for an stimulating and varied experience. The book so captivated me that I could recount almost all of the 13 words after one read, and could even describe details of the different scenes. I sent it to my nephews for Easter (toddler and infant) and they both love it. The toddler loves the sad bird and the cakes and hats and the infant loves the entrepreneurial baby. It is so much fun to see the two year old practicing the words in the book! I think the best way to enjoy this book is to think of it as a word book with a strange story that links its seemingly disconnected words rather than as an illustrated storybook. That said, I think the book contains some important lessons: 1. sometimes you will be despondent and that is okay. 2. When you are very sad, you can temporarily relieve that sadness by spending time with friends, treating yourself to things you enjoy, listening to music, and staying busy. 3. When your friends are sad, it can be nice to help them do those things that relieve sadness, but not take their sadness personally, and 4. the meaning of the word panache.
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Format: Hardcover
Lemony Snicket brings out the extravagant side of writing into picture books. 13 words opens a world of new words for kids with a "despondent" bird, a dog and a goat.
13 words is not the usual picture-book, but definitely reflects how they should be. A challenging read for kids, but definitely a fun ride and a great learning device as well.
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Format: Hardcover
It looked so promising... Lemony Snicket AND Maira Kalman?! Sounded like a match made in heaven! When my 4yo received this as a birthday present, *I* was the one most excited about it. So we dove right in, and read it... but... it's very strange. While the illustrations are creative and inventive, and each page has, well, interesting things written on it, the overall feeling I was left with was one of... hmm, incompleteness? Or like I missed something? I kept thinking each page was all part of an arc that would explain itself at the end, but that didn't happen. The "story" was disjointed, with promising and wacky characters that show up, but they didn't *do* anything. I'll give you an example: a hat store whose owner is a baby. It *sounds* like something really funny could come of it, but nothing does. He's just a baby who runs the hat store. (Incidentally, that the hat store was called a "haberdashery" kind of got to me, too; isn't a hat store a millinery? Or is that specifically for women's hats?? Oh, who cares.)

Anyway, I'm all for books that are weird and wonderful and seem sort of hard to "get," but still leave you with a sense of happiness and wonderment. This one didn't seem to do it upon first reading, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt and read through it with the kids again. Oh, the kids... they didn't seem to mind that it didn't make any sense, and they actually liked some of the 13 words. So three stars for a solid "I can't make up my mind" vote.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this for my daughter when she was 18 months old and we instantly loved it (and she asked for it at least once a day for the next year). I find it to be a refreshingly funny, smart, different, and elegant little book for young children. We tend to prefer the lovely quirky little finds, and for us this one stands out as a gem among many on our kiddo's bookshelf. It's as fanciful as a fairy tale but without rehashing the same old plots and archetypes yet again, and features good friends on a mission, cake, and hats. I love the references to fine art sprinkled throughout, the sweetly posh and avant-garde lifestyle they all live, the level of detail in the pictures, and of course Lemony Snicket's wit and prose. I've read this book what feels like several million times now, and my now-three-year-old sings along with the mezzo-soprano's song (yes, we set it to music), and it still cracks me up to see the bird relaxing in an armchair reading, with her slippers off, a coffee and sandwich on a table nearby, and a do-rag on her head after being busy all day with her work as what appears to be a modern artist or possibly interior decorator. I like that it's for children but not babyish, independent but not rude, and sweet but not sugary. (Except for the steady supply of cake, that is.)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lemony Snicket's 13 Words is a bedtime story favorite in my home. Its format follows Snicket's usual unique, clever, refreshing style, and the story is good for a number of happy giggles. The book is also excellent because it teaches children several words they very likely have never even heard before, like "haberdashery," while mixing in familiar words to keep them comfortable, such as "bird" and "cake." My youngest is 4 and my oldest, 12, and all my kids love this book. The ending is fun - an opera singer sings a little song - allowing the reader (if reading aloud) to get creative by making up a tune to go with the words, or simply read them. If you're tired of ho-hum children's stories, this book is definitely for you! Highly recommended!
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