Little Elephants (Graeme Base, Viking)
Graeme Base needs no introduction. His books, including Animalia and The Eleventh Hour, are firmly established as classics. His latest book is a fairytale-like story in which adversity is overcome in a very surprising way. The setting is a remote farm run by a mother and her son Jim. The illustrations suggest the story takes place around the late 1940s or early 50s, and that the father was in the war and is no longer with them. Times are tough and the farm is in serious trouble. When the mother discovers that the harvester is broken, it looks like they will lose their wheat crop. What happens next is a series of events that will take young readers into Jim’s magical world. This world involves a mysterious stranger, a magical horn and the invasion of a swarm of magical creatures, all of which eventually leads to the successful harvest of the wheat crop. The illustrations are a wonder of colour and imagination, and readers will lose themselves in each double-page spread, examining the detail and the action within the story. This is another masterpiece from Base.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She now provides freelance publishing services and runs Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath, NSW