There’s Always Time to be Dapper

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann; illustrated by Janet Lee

(Grades 4 & Up) Tick… tock… tick… tock… Click. Time has stopped on the world of Anorev and the inhabitants, caught in a day with no sunset, have forgotten their purpose. The machines that live above ground keep plodding away at pointless tasks and the children, who can never grow old, have moved underground to their own, demented Neverland. Endless play, endless work; an unpalatable staleness perpetuates the world and no one wonders if there is anything else. Except for Ayden and Zoe, two young companions: one human, one robot. They have a feeling that behind the baited breath of their world there is something waiting to happen- if they could only figure out what. Then, with the clanging of an immense clock, time begins again and the Dapper Men return to help Anorev remember its purpose, to encourage Zoe and Ayden to discover their destiny, and to remind everyone that with the coming sunset, dreams await.
More of an allegory than a story, Return of the Dapper Men is an ode to Time. In a world populated with tales that wax hopeful about a life free from the burden of the clock, Dapper Men reminds us that Time is the great motivator. Without it, nothing happens, people forget their purpose, and dreams stagnate. While this concept seems advanced for younger children, Jim McCann’s whimsical writing and Janet Lee’s softly stunning artwork combine to provide a comfortable world for readers of all ages to explore. They can choose to try and understand its meaning or just immerse themselves in the quiet beauty of the story. Like any good dream, this is a story you’ll be sad to wake up from. Fortunately, to return to this one, all you have to do is crack the covers, crawl in, and begin exploring all over again.

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