Yet again Graeme Base gives us the most beautiful picture book with a charming story that cloaks a hugely important message for all.
This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree.
When two friends discover an enormous tree both are thrilled especially with the mooberries and mushquacks it provides. They become so absorbed in their new-found goodies each forgets the other is there. The situation becomes even worse when a big storm comes along and although the tree bends and survives, both Cow and Duck become jealous of each other and determine to protect their own part of the tree. Their fortifications of above and below become so extreme and so stressful for the tree that when the next storm comes along, the tree does not bend – instead it is smashed apart and neither of the friends has their guarded space.
It takes a long time but eventually a new young sapling begins to grow amidst the ruin of the old tree and this time Cow and Duck work together to protect it and share the good things it provides with all who come. A timely lesson indeed for the imperative facing each and every one of us – to protect and share our natural abundance, without selfishness and greed.
Children as young as Prep will enjoy the humour of the story and delight in finding the other creatures tucked away in each illustration, in typical Base style, but will also be able to comprehend the message. I foresee many rich and deep discussions arising from sharing of this outstanding new offering from one of Australia’s most celebrated creators.
Highly recommended for children from around 4 years upwards .
Graeme Base’s whimsical illustrations are always a joy and combined, as they in this series for very small humans, with a simple plot and engaging text are a total winning package.
There’s a bit of a panic in the garden when Wuffle the puppy, Lou the kitten and Billington the duck are disturbed in their quiet afternoon by a huge rogue balloon headed straight for the rose bushes. In their mad scramble to avoid the impending catastrophe they don’t even notice that the three residents rabbits observing from their hutch are suddenly transformed into the superheroes they truly are.
A little bit of quick thinking and some handy tennis racquets ensure that disaster is averted and peace returns to the garden – and the bunnies resume their quiet bystander status back in the hutch.
These are such cute stories for little people who will giggle at the antics of the hiding animals who are rather hysterical about the imagined ‘big bang’.
Utterly perfect for your early learning centres or Prep classes make sure you have the whole series because there will be many fans of these as well as much opportunity for the concept of helping others without expecting recognition.
Highly recommended for littlies from around 2 years upwards.
When the Italian non-reading male in the house picks a picture book off the ever-growing pile that has mounted up on the dining table all month, opens it up and goes ‘Wow – what amazing illustrations!’ – you know it’s something out of the norm.
And Graeme Base is definitely something out of the norm – it hardly seems fair that one person can be so talented but for over 30 years Graeme has continued to astound and enchant readers with his astonishing art.
His latest book was inspired by a trip to Cambodia and South China – you can read more about that here. The Last King of Angkor Wat is a fable with themes of wisdom and introspection with four animals all attempting to prove their boastful claims of being the most suited to the kingship, only to be humbled by the astuteness of Elephant.
From my first Graeme Base purchase (The Eleventh Hour for #2 daughter who fell in love with it at school, closely followed up by backtracking to buy Animalia for #3 daughter) I, as well as myriad others, have been overwhelmed by his sumptuous artwork.
There is really so much to say but no need to say it about this latest title – if you have not yet seen it, be prepared to have your breath taken away yet again!
Fans will enjoy this interview from the ABC and if you missed it when it screened here is the transcript from the ABC Talking Headsinterview.
From the Penguin site:
10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT GRAEME BASE
He has two Bengal Cats called Stella and Atticus. Stella is spotty like a leopard; Atticus is marbled like an ocelot.
He has a secret way of crushing plastic milk cartons so they take up the least room possible in the recycling bin.
He has a strange fascination with quantum physics and astronomy and puts himself to sleep at night by reading New Scientist magazine.
He is a keen but so far unknown inventor of games, musical instruments and household appliances including a new kind of vacuum cleaner and a baby-stroller.
He learnt clarinet in school and later played alto sax and keyboards in a band called Rikitikitavi. His now-wife Robyn was the lead singer.
He has written several musicals based on his books including The Sign of the Seahorse, Gooligulch, The Worst Band in the Universe and Jungle Drums. They have all been performed but not nearly enough!
He has a nifty way of winding guitar leads and garden hoses so they don’t get tangled and curly when they are unwound.
He has visited 40 of the 50 United States of America and all seven continents, and dislikes airport terminals more than he can adequately express.
He has recently rediscovered several big boxes full of old sketches and drawings that have never been published and has decided to start an Instagram post with a new drawing every day – or maybe every second day… we shall see!