The Hole Story (Kelly Canby, Fremantle Press)
One of the joys of early childhood are those moments when you discover the remarkable in the everyday. The Hole Story turns on such uncanny moments. When Charlie discovers a hole and puts it in his pocket, a small problem quickly opens up: putting the hole in his backpack causes everything to fall out. What is Charlie to do with this hole, and who else will want it? He sets off on a haphazard neighbourhood quest for a solution. The Hole Story is a crisply designed picture book for preschoolers. Kelly Canby portrays Charlie’s world in loose brushstrokes using cool greens, earthy orange and browns, with sketched pencil highlights. The text really comes to life when read aloud, and its occasional quirky vocabulary adds to the fun. The shop signs in Canby’s illustrations carry some especially playful puns that enrich the reading, and the streetscapes have an international, cosmopolitan feel, relying less on traditional Australian iconography. Wordlessly woven into Charlie’s story is a witty subplot that holds the key to who ultimately does want a hole. Keen-eyed young readers aged three to six will delight in identifying just who that is, and this hide-and-seek aspect will encourage repeated readings.
Mike Shuttleworth is a Melbourne bookseller