Second is a Hiccup, A.jpg

A Second is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time

Written by Hazel Hutchins

Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

How long is a second?

A second is a hiccup - the time it takes to kiss your mom, or jump a rope, or turn around.

This smart, simple, and surprising book explains units of time in terms every child will recognize. So any parent who's been asked, "How long is an hour?" or any kid who's wondered "What does 'a month' mean?" can understand and celebrate all the secondsminuteshoursdaysweeksmonths, and years of life!

Reviews and Awards

Booklist Editors' Choice 2007
CCBC Choices 2008

⋆ "Hutchins explains the lengths of various time units in original, child-centered terms. A Second is how long it takes to hiccup or 'to kiss your mom/ Or jump a rope/ Or turn around.' A minute is not just 60 seconds, it’s also time enough for 60 hiccups, 60 hops, or a little song including the chorus and verses. And so on, through an hour, a day, a week, a month, and a year. Ingenious explanations include a month as the time it takes for a scraped shin to grow new skin and a year how long it takes to outgrow a pair of shoes. Often falling in to rhymed couplets, the fluid text reads aloud well. Few contemporary illustrators depict children with such understanding, grace, and quirky charm as Denton, whose previous picture books include Claire Masurel’s Two Homes (2001) and Nan Gregory's Amber Waiting (2002). Here the diverse cast of characters centers on three children who intersect with each other, their parents, and their siblings as they participate in a year’s worth of activities. Washed with gentle colors, the sensitive drawings portray children who are secure, actively engaged, and sometimes even joyful within their community of family and friends. The first American edition of a Canadian picture book, this is a worthy companion to Zolotow’s equally child-centered classic Over and Over (1957) and fresh new take on the passage of time." - Booklist, starred review

⋆ "How does one explain time to a child? "A second is a hiccup" might be just the right place to start. Using child-friendly analogies, Hutchins moves from seconds through larger units of time - a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, and concluding with a year, a seemingly endless time period to children. The lilting, playful text, composed mostly of rhyming couplets, is consistently affectionate and upbeat. . . . A soothing, lyrical text, many small details to point out in the art, and a final picture showing the three friends tucked into their beds make this book a perfect way to end the day." - The Horn Book

⋆ "The abstract concept of time is explained in child-friendly terms: “A second is a hiccup–/The time it takes to kiss your mom/Or jump a rope/Or turn around.” A minute is long enough to “sing just one small song,” and in an hour, you could build a sandcastle, run through a sprinkler, climb a tree, and play pretend. A day “needs filling, like a cup,” and a week is explained as “Seven wake-ups, seven sleeps.” In a month, a scraped shin will heal with “brand-new skin,” and by the end of a year, “You’ll grow right out of your old shoes.” Denton’s charming watercolor-and-ink vignettes, showing three friends interacting with one another and with their families, celebrate their joys and accomplishments with warmth and affection. The lyrical, rhyming text answers deceptively simple childhood questions with great flair." - School Library Journal, starred review

⋆ "How long is a second? How about a minute? An hour? A day? Hutchins has all the right answers to these time-related questions and more, and she explains them flawlessly, in terms just right for young children. A second, for example, “is a hiccup—The time it takes to kiss your mom / Or jump a rope / Or turn around.” An hour is “Sixty minutes singing by. / If you build a sandy tower / Run right through a sprinkly shower / Climb a tree and smell a flower / Pretend you have a secret power / That should nicely fill / An hour.” With a sense of wonder and gentle whimsy reminiscent of Ruth Krauss, each line of text rhymes and dances along with three playful children and their families as they explore and travel through a year’s worth of sunrises, seasons, growing, counting, learning and fun. Imminently appealing watercolor illustrations, replete with warmth, complement the text perfectly. An excellent read-aloud and a great choice for any child learning about time." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Denton’s watercolor illustrations evince an appealingly informal delicacy, with a jovial cast of smiling families engaged in all manner of timely activities. The action-packed pastel compositions offer lots of opportunity for early language development as young browsers describe what is happening in the individual paintings. With some additional adult assistance, this could be a cozy one-on-one way to help kids grapple with the complicated concept of time." - Center of the Bulletin for Children's Books

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Spring 2007
Picture Book
ISBN: 0-439-83106-7
Price: $16.99
Trim Size: 8" x 10"
Page Count: 40
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes

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