- Age Range: 4 - 7 years
- Grade Level: 2 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 230L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Printing edition (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0810945681
- ISBN-13: 978-0810945685
- Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.5 x 11.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Water Hole Hardcover – September 1, 2001
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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Who can resist the allure of the hidden wilderness water hole? Certainly not one rhino. Not two tigers. Nor three toucans. Pretty soon the delicious pool is drawing moose, catfish, pandas, tortoises... and more than 100 other critters from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and beyond. But is it our imagination or is that rhino-sized water hole dwindling to a mere shadow of its former self, a puddle not fit for eight ladybugs, let alone 10 kangaroos? As the seasons change across the world, and the animals get thirstier, the water supply diminishes. Eventually, even the flowery-shirted frog that has stoically lingered through the drought packs his suitcase and takes off. The only hope now is a drop of rain on the parched earth...
With his usual elaborate detail, Graeme Base, mad genius behind Animalia, The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery, and other wild and wonderful titles, presents a one-of-a-kind counting book. Naturally, Base would never be content to stick with a simple 1 through 10 format. Readers of all ages will linger over each spread, first counting the highlighted animals and giggling at the translation of their grunts and growls (the moose's "Moo, moo, mooooooiii!" means "Hey, get your hoof out of my ear!"). Then it's time to check out the diminishing size of the die-cut hole in the pond. And finally, readers will want to find each of the 10 additional animals cleverly hidden in every illustration, based on the silhouetted creatures in the border. A safari on paper--with an environmental and mathematical education thrown in for good measure. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
The first thing I notice when I turn the page is not the astounding art on the right-hand page, though the artist-author’s work draws me strongly to look there. I first notice the big number “1” on the verso. Under the number I read:
drinking at the water hole.
The “1” is big enough for me to see that Graeme Base has painted a rhino skin on it. I feel a fullness in the sparsity of words. I turn the glossy page.
The big “2” wears tiger stripes. I read the words, and the fullness now comes with anticipation. Something is going to happen. Something is already happening.
lapping at the water hole.
(Goodness gracious, how very delectable!)
I feel comfort in the repetition, friendliness in the pattern, winsome humor in the “translation” of the animals’ talk. Before I turn to the page with the big “3” I am expectant, because I know what to expect.
There will be a big number. There will be that many animals in the painting on the recto, and one simple sentence fragment. Below that, the animal sounds, and then in parentheses, the “translation.” Like this:
[verb ending in -ing] at the water hole.
“[appropriate animal sound]!”
([some clever line from the animals’ conversation])
Graeme Base is witty. He makes me laugh, and I like him for it. (You should hear the goofy moose on the “5” page, and what the 8 businesslike ladybugs say while they are “meeting at the water hole.”)
I once read a book on writing that mentioned “the economy of words,” and I marvel at how, in four lines, Graeme (pronounced gray-em, by the way) is able to build a plot. He incorporates a full-fledged story arc in a counting book, a simple picture book about animals he saw on his safaris in Kenya and Tanzania. Genius.
The water hole shrinks with every page turn, for the drought is coming. Graeme Base takes the comfortable, exciting pattern he introduced in the beginning—and breaks it. “Ten Kangaroos looking at the water hole. There was nothing to say. The water was all gone.”
I am thirsty again, and beginning to panic. Where is the water I came for? Suddenly I have “cotton mouth” and my throat is parched. Do you want to know what animals he features on the next double-page spread?
The extinct ones. Ten of them, including Dodo, Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk. These extinct animals are not drawn directly; the artist forms them from the voids in a painting of a land parched like my throat, with withered trees and dull color.
Then a shadow fell across the sun.
Clouds began to gather.
A single drop of rain fell.
And the water hole returns, and all the animals came back.
I did not even mention the strip of ten animal silhouettes lining the top and bottom of every page; those same animals cleverly hidden in the main painting, creating a kind of scavenger hunt that would delight and challenge a reader of any age; the little frogs wearing aloha-shirts, also hiding. I did not mention every aspect of Graeme Base’s The Water Hole that captivates the senses. Maybe, like the animals, I will come back and do that next time.
So often we grandparents buy books declared winners by critics who believe that reading time with grandchildren should be focused on didactic and politically correct texts. Such books rarely become love-tattered. In fact they are generally quite boring. Read your young ones Base, Sendak, Lithgow. Kay Thompson, classic fairy tales, rousing Greek myths, Old Testament stories... these never bore quick, curious minds.
So get this and read it once as a regular book, but then encourage your kids to pour over each and every illustration. This is so much better than Where's Waldo?