32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree that has Cow’s favourite mooberries growing on its branches and Duck’s favourite mushquacks growling amongst its roots. So Cow builds herself a castle high in the tree and pulls up the drawbridge so no one can get in, and Duck digs deep amongst the roots and secures his domain with a secret key. They forget each other, each content in their own “fiefdom” and all appears well until one night a massive storm upends everything. Suddenly they rediscover each other and the jealousy and selfishness begins…
Whether it is a classic like Animalia or Uno’s Garden, a tale like The Last King of Angkor Wat or Moonfish, or something for the younger readers like The Amazing Monster Detectoscope or Bumblebunnies, Graeme Base can be guaranteed to give the reader the most exquisitely illustrated story that has more layers than the bed in The Princess and the Pea! This new story is no exception with so much to discover in the pictures and so much to discuss in the words., encapsulated in the final masterful illustration. For the tree is so much more than a home to a selfish cow and a greedy duck and the reader can spend hours getting lost in the worlds of it branches, trunk and roots, knowing that one cannot survive without the other and so it becomes a symbol for harmony, co-operation and sharing. But, sturdy and steadfast as it may seem, it is not indestructible .However, from its demise something just as precious emerges offering the one thing that keeps life going – hope for a better future.
Graeme Base has created such a fabulous body of work since he first gave us My Grandma Lives in Gooligulch that, in my opinion, he is one of Australia’s master storytellers who deserves a very special place in our history of children’s literature.
One for all ages.