ABC Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Squirrel is making her way through the woods with a basket of goodies to share with her cousin Vera. But when she stops to have a rest, she spies a hole in the ground and being inquisitive she peers down it. Wondering who lives there she climbs into it, only to find she can’t touch the bottom and she is stuck because she can’t get a purchase on the sheer walls to hoist herself up. Her shouts for help are heard by an ostrich passing by, also with a basket of goodies to share with his cousin but when he sticks his long neck down the hole to investigate, it is longer than squirrel’s legs and he declares he can’t see anything, Trouble strikes when his head his wedged in the hole, both Squirrel and Ostrich convinced that there is a monster at the bottom of the hole who will have them both for his lunch. Three monkeys also find themselves trapped and when a tiny mouse appears to waken the monster by yelling at it, everyone seems doomed…
This is a charming adventure that engages from the get-go with its 3D cover featuring a hole filled with black and two bright eyes! Young readers will suggest that it’s about a monster at the bottom of a hole but the monster shape revealed on the front page could be anything so there are no clues there, The story begins with Squirrel’s curiosity, moves through the willingness of others to help those in distress or need and ends with a friendship amongst some unlikely characters. Young readers might like to speculate on what might be at the bottom of the hole, although they are unlikely to guess because it’s not a creature young Australians would be familiar with. Nevertheless, the scope for describing the monster that might be there is endless. They could also put themselves in the position of the squirrel, the ostrich and the monkeys to consider how they would respond – would they be curious, would they help or would they continue of their journey because someone is expecting them?
Its rhyming format and the cumulative text make it perfect for reading aloud and Masciullo’s illustrations capture the emotions and the drama of the moment perfectly.
Teachers’ notes are available.