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The Water Hole


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About the Author

Graeme Base is one of the world's leading creators of picture books. Animalia received international acclaim when it was first published in 1986, and it has achieved classic status with worldwide sales of more than two million copies. Base's most recent picture book, The Water Hole, an ingenious fusion of counting book, puzzle book, storybook and artbook, has been published in Australia, the USA, Canada, Italy, France, Denmark and the UK. Base lives in Melbourne with his artist wife Robyn and their three children.


Readers will find more to see the longer they linger over the enticing pages of Base's (Animalia) latest innovative effort. Successive spreads introduce a growing number of animals (from one rhino to 10 kangaroos) at a water hole which, as viewed through die-cut ovals of progressively decreasing size, becomes smaller with each turn of the page. Though the minimal, somewhat quirky text makes no reference to the locale depicted in each mixed-media painting, images in the background of the various landscapes help pinpoint the country or continent in focus (e.g., Mount Rushmore is visible through the trees that flank five North American moose lapping up water and the Great Wall of China looms behind seven thirsty pandas). Borders at the top and bottom of each spread feature silhouettes of 10 animals indigenous to the spotlighted locale. In the accompanying illustration, Base cleverly conceals renderings of these creatures, subtly working them into the vegetation and sometimes into the remarkably lifelike images of the featured animals themselves. Keeping these creatures company and adding a dose of whimsy to the visuals is a cast of diminutive frogs, bedecked in pearls, knit caps and shirts. Though the animals disappear when the water hole dries up, rain eventually falls and the earth springs back to life. Base's final panorama reveals all the species gathered peacefully at one much larger water hole, bringing his story to a hopeful close. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 3 Up-Come to the water hole and immerse yourself in an extravagant experience. The offering from a master of visual delight is at once a counting book, a zoological tour, and a fascinating hidden-picture challenge. As 10 different animals from 10 different countries come to quench their thirst, a metaphorical water hole diminishes until it dries up completely and the visitors leave. Then the cycle begins again with a single drop of water, a torrent of rain, and a luxuriant new watering hole that draws all of the creatures back again. With a quarter page of simple counting text and three-quarters page of sumptuous watercolor and gouache, the story unfolds on many levels. The water hole itself is a concentric cutout oval that shrinks from page to page. There are silhouettes in the borders of the creatures indigenous to each country and those same animals are hidden in the dense background. A comic note is added with 10 frogs, some wearing clothes, whose numbers also decrease as the water dries up. While some children may miss the illustrative subtleties indicating that each water hole is actually in a different part of the world, this numerical and ecological companion to Animalia (Abrams, 1987) is a visual treat.-Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

An absorbing visual feast. (Kirkus Reviews)

Another beautifully illustrated animal fantasy... children will savor the gorgeous, animal-packed spreads. (Booklist)

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