Off the Clock HC Lexicon of Time Words & Expressions Kimberly Olson Fakih 1995


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Off the Clock: A Lexicon of Time Words and Expressions Hardcover
by Kimberly Olsen Fakih (Author)

Off the Clock is a wonderfully varied collection of words about time and the legends, historical anecdotes, and scientific facts that explain the expressions.

The focus of this collection of time-related words and idioms is not time measured by the clock, but time as experienced or felt?down through the ages and across cultures. A preface discusses the concept and relevance of time, then comes an alphabetical listing of some 75 terms- “Bee time,” “Canonical hours,” “Dillydallying,” “Elevenses,” “Garden,” “Matinee,” “Tempo,” etc. -followed by a few paragraphs of explanation and/or rumination.

Science is rarely the basis for the discussion; rather, folklore, religion, anthropology, and history are called upon. Examples are from many different cultures and bias is pointedly rejected, though assumptions are sometimes made about readers’ knowledge of Christian concepts. The tone is conversational and the information interesting; the layout is attractive, with an appropriate black-and-white woodcut or engraving (some sourced) gracing each page; and the author is sympathetic to kids’ perceptions. Yet one wonders who will read this volume. The selection is broad, but idiosyncratic, with no index, and only occasional cross-references, so its usefulness for specific inquiries is dicey. Browsing is a possibility, and certainly no other juvenile titles address the language of time so directly. Marilyn Burns’s This Book Is about Time (Little, 1978) covers some of the same information, together with much more in the way of science/math activities. Even though Fakih’s effort tries for relevance, and has a wide scope (reflected in its eclectic bibliography), this is a subject adults, rather than young people, tend to chew on.

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; First Edition

First, in case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind, I am a simple person who enjoys simple things. I also am a collector of absolutely worthless information (to anyone but myself), and enjoy odd things…as long as they are simple. I actually do enjoy watching a cat sleep, and indeed, the grass grow. This little book, a simple book, is an absolute delight for folks like me. The powers that be have declared this a work for fifth grade and up. I have to agree with that, but certainly not in the condescending manner the School Library Journal or Booklist have. Those people are so very much brighter and knowledgeable than most of us, that it is difficult to write a review of a work they have already covered. I personally have found that a lot of the little volumes found in our “children’s libraries” are just as informative as those found in dusty Doctorial dissertations, and that they certainly a lot more fun! Off The Clock, by Kimberly Olson Fakih, is simply a hoot and is a very informative read, for both the young and the not so young!

This short book deals with time. It is a collection of folklore, tales, historical data, expressions, words, phrases and bits of this a chunks of that, all dealing with time. Do you know how quick a “blink” is? What is a Canonical hour? When is eventide? Do you know what Linnaeus’s Flower Clock is and do you know how to read it? (Like say, if I would tell you it is half-past a White Water Lily, would you know the time?). How about the word or term “Kairos” and how would you apply it to a kiss? When is “tea time” and did you know it is different for Alice (of Wonderland fame) and Winnie the Pooh? How long was an Aztec or Maya year…hint, they called it a “lamat.”

As has been pointed out, there is no index in this book, so it makes this work a bit difficult to use when doing a research paper for school. Gosh, how terrible. Can you imagine the horror that one must go through reading a work simply for the sheer joy and general curiosity, and not being able to use it as a reference footnote? Gasp…that is almost academically sacrilegious! I suppose we should try to purge our public and school libraries of such trivial tripe. (He sarcastically said).

This book has been delightfully illustrated with black and white engravings, which resemble old wood engravings, most in a medieval style…very simple, but very effective. The text is easy on the eye and mind. It informs in a conversational mode and will not send your eyes to the back of your head out of sheer boredom when you read it. The author can be both amusing and poetic, all in the same paragraph. The book has been criticized for not being detailed enough for those who want more information on some of the subjects addressed here. Here again, it seems it is a terrible thing to force someone to actually do their own research on a subject that interest them.

Well, it is the “shank of the afternoon” here, and near my tea time and I do not want to get into to a lengthy nemawashi with my wife over when we will actually eat. Recommend this one highly. You will get a bit of a kick out of it.

Dust jacket has picked up a few stains. 1st printing. Writing on one of the first pages. 0-395-66374-1.


Highlighting through (no writing.) Sticker residue on back cover. Book is in near mint condition.