Harris manages to introduce history, mythology, and critical thinking in a fun, approachable way. Kids will learn several superstitions—finding a penny heads-up on the ground means good luck, but breaking a mirror will earn you seven years of the opposite—and the possible origins to Thirteen’s infamous reputation. Some believe Norse mythology was responsible for Thirteen’s troubles, while others are convinced he gets a bad rap because, numerically, he comes right after 12, a number that ancient mathematicians viewed as perfection. History aside, Thirteen just wants to be accepted and make some more friends—though he and his best buddy, Friday, cause plenty of chaos when they get together.
YipJar’s illustrations are engaging and witty, with darling images of a fuzzy, toothy Thirteen posing throughout. Younger readers will get a kick out of the superstitions, which seem silly in the context of this logical, charming story, and adults will welcome the lesson that unfamiliarity often breeds fear and animosity. Harris thoughtfully introduces some cool new words—like friggatriskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th—and even delves into how Thirteen’s status changes based on the country he's in (in Italy, “to do thirteen” is equivalent to saying you hit the jackpot). This is delightful.
Takeaway: Adorable tale explaining why the number 13 is not all that scary.
Comparable Titles: Adam Wallace’s How to Catch a Monster, Amy Dyckman’s Misunderstood Shark.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A