The Water Hole
by Graeme Base
Your toddler will love putting his or her little fingers through the ever-shrinking die-cut holes in the pages of this multi-layered board book (the hardcover was originally published in 2001). As they count from one rhino to two tigers up to 10 kangaroos, youngest book lovers will find many of the animals easy to identify. Other creatures, such as the Toucans and snow leopards offer youngsters a chance to stretch their knowledge. As various animals in increasing numbers come to the water hole to drink, the water supply decreases. Children can literally feel the changes as the die-cut hole offers less and less room for little fingers to hold.
With repeated readings, they may notice that each illustration spotlights a different locale, with clues to the country or continent that serves as the animals’ home. The Taj Mahal shows through an opening in the trees behind two tigers; Mount Rushmore serves as backdrop for five thirsty moose; and the Great Wall stretches behind a septet of pandas. While Graeme Base portrays all of the featured creatures realistically, he also adds a dash of humor with an array of frogs decked out in pearls, knit caps and striped tank tops. Toddlers will delight in picking them out on each page. For eagle-eye toddlers, there are also animals hidden in the trees and shadows. (Can you find the lion’s face in the lower left-hand corner of the “One Rhino” spread?) Happily, a lush final scene depicts the entire cast of animals frolicking near a freely flowing stream.