Thursday, October 4, 2012
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!"