214. “The Water Hole” by Graeme Base

Today’s book is not what I would usually take from the shelf. At first sight it seems to be nothing beyond a richly illustrated  number book. Not really my style of pictures, kind of “Legends of Narnia”, and counting books are too basic for my son. Yet, he was the one who insisted on bringing it home.   Well, children do like wild animals (and the crowded ZOOs confirm it), and there was a moose and a panda on the cover, so I wasn’t surprised. We gave the book a try.

Apart from quite magical pictures of numerous wild beasts and always useful numbers, the book offers a mystery: drying up of a secret water hole, which provides water for 1 rhino, 2 tigers, 3 toucans…10 kangaroos. Page by page the hole shrinks and one day it vanishes and animals go away. Until a little rain drop turns into what looks like the biblical deluge.

A very interesting and multi-level picture book. The animals are grouped per continent,  so children can see which animals live together. Lots of new and intriguing names to learn, like cassowary or passenger pigeon. And the intricately created pictures (watercolors, pencil and gouache on hot-press illustration board) are really breathtaking.

We were all but disappointed.


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