The Water Hole by Graeme Base

From author/illustrator Graeme Base (creator of ‘Animalia’) comes another stunning work of art that is simultaneously a counting book, a storybook and a puzzle book. ‘The Water Hole’ takes a timeless theme and weaves it together to create a brilliant fusion of gorgeous illustrations and an exhilarating plotline.

the water hole by graeme base

What’s ‘The Water Hole’ About?

The book starts off with a singular rhino snorting and slurping at a water hole. He is followed by two tigers, who also appreciate the cool, clear liquid. Three toucans swing by afterwards and enjoy gulping and guzzling the water. But something is now beginning to happen to the water hole…it is getting smaller, and the number of animals gathering at once is getting larger. Four snow leopards take caution with the amount they consume, and five moose become frustrated as they crowd around the shrinking pool. Beneath the surface, six catfish are floundering around, while seven panda’s do their best to share what’s left of the water. Eight ladybugs hold an emergency meeting with each other about the situation, and nine tortoises lumber around unsure of what to do. By the time ten kangaroos come along, there is nothing left for them to say or do. All the water is gone, and the landscaped parched and dead. There is hardly a living thing around.

But mother nature has a wonderful way of taking care of us, and before too long clouds gather, and following a singular drop of rain comes a downpour that breathes life back into the water hole and all the land around it.

What’s It Like?

Graeme Base is so neat in the way he designs his books. Where the water hole is drawn, there are circular cut outs that shrink smaller and smaller with turn of the page, making it so there appears to be less and less water. In the background, subtly carved in tree trunks or snaked together in the branches are the outlines of numerous other animals that provide a new layer to the book as the reader seeks them out. Watch for the little frog that pops up on every page who witnesses the whole process of the water hole drying up and then returning. On the border running around each page there are small labeled stamps of various animals.

The Illustrations

Brilliant. Beautiful. Stunning. The illustrations are done in the style that only Graeme Base can create- a style that in my opinion rivals the artistic ingenuity of David Wiesner. The drawings sparkle with life and detail, and are so well done all I wanted to do was crawl into the pages and take a nice long drink from the watering hole myself. Base has such a wonderful way of depicting his stories, I never tire of them.

the water hole illustrations


Give it a try. Especially if you enjoyed ‘Animalia.’ It has such an important theme, and is so well put together it leaves readers craving more, consequently resulting in multiple readings in the same day. It’s not just the story or the illustrations that keep it so fascinating, but all the little details. You can lose yourself in the layers of Graeme Bases’ books for hours-and that is something that not many other children’s books can claim they do to their readers.

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