Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 173: The Water Hole

Graeme Base is one of the most amazing children's illustrators I know.  His artwork is simply stunning, with beautiful, intricate detail that gives his drawings a truly magical feel.  We love Animalia, and recently found The Water Hole at our local library.  We brought it home because my son wants to read any book about animals, but mostly because I'm always fascinated by Base's illustrations.  I briefly flipped through the pages and noticed that it was a counting book, and that each page had a cut-out area for a watering hole which kept getting smaller and smaller as the book went on.  Cute, I thought.  A nice little counting book about animals (with gorgeous illustrations, of course.)  My son took to the book immediately and enjoyed looking at it throughout the afternoon, but it wasn't until the next day that I really sat down to read the book with him.  We've read it many times since, including for an hour together this morning, and each time we pick it up we discover new gems hidden within its pages.

This book is a classic example of a picture being worth a thousand words.  There are so many amazing things about this story that I really don't know where to begin.  You can tell just by looking at the cover illustration that the artwork in the book is incredible, but there is so much more to this wonderful book! Each page features wildlife from various parts of the world, such as India, Australia, South America, the Galapagos Islands, and the Himalayas.  Hidden within each drawing itself are a variety of other native creatures, whose silhouettes appear in the borders of each spread.  We love finding all of these hidden animals, and I am always blown away by the artistry and creativity involved in crafting such elaborate illustrations.  As more animals come to drink at the water hole (that's where the counting element comes in), the level of water gradually goes down... until there is none left!  By weaving in the themes of seasonal change and migration, Base creates wonderful opportunities for further learning and discussion within his pages, as well.  You can see why the geography teacher in me absolutely loves this book!

My son's favorite page is the one for Europe with all of the ladybugs, but I think my favorite is actually the one where, after the water hole has dried up, "All the animals went away."  This page features a beautifully eerie and desolate image of a barren land, with 10 extinct animals hidden within.  It is the least colorful image in the book, but is positively brilliant in every way.  I also love the page shortly thereafter where the rains come, forming shimmering puddles in the shapes of the earth's continents as the world slowly comes back to life.   Yes, I think it's safe to say we've added yet another book to our "Must own someday" list!

I suppose I've gone on enough about how fabulous a book I think this is, so I'll leave you with this tidbit from the author himself about the inspiration behind the story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!  "The Water Hole was inspired by a four-week sight-seeing safari through Kenya and Tanzania.  I had in mind a simple story about the cycle of season on the African plains, but the idea gradually expanded to embrace other countries and their wildlife, in the process giving the central image of the water hole a certain metaphorical significance -- and, of course, providing me with the perfect excuse to draw lots of animals from other parts of the world, as well!"


Unknown said...

I am a Children's book author and illustrator and write books that are great for reading several times.

Thank you,
Nany Mauerman

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