Format: Picture book
Author and illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Publisher: PAN Macmillan Childrens Books (published October 2014)
You could summarize this book like so: “A girl saw a hole in the ground. The end.” But then again, you could also summarize Goodnight Moon like this: “Goodnight to all the things.”
I was already a fan of Rebecca Cobb’s illustration in Julia Donaldson’s The Paper Dolls when I stumbled across this book at our local bookstore. I occasionally buy books to add to our “gift stash” to bring to birthday parties and whatnot, but this one somehow made it out of the box and onto our shelves because I knew Little E would love it. Cobb’s illustrations are sweetly childlike without being saccharine, and the story is also a child’s-eye-view tale.
So. A girl finds a hole in the ground and wonders what is down there. She’s sure it’s…something. Her mum speculates that the hole might be a doorway into a little mouse’s house; her sister says the something is most likely a scary troll; her best friend is sure it’s a dragon. The split-level illustrations explore the possibilities of the world below the ground, taking us through all the different prospects of what could be down there. Is it a snake? A squirrel? A fox listening to a record player? A mole knitting? We never do find out, but the little narrator is watching…and waiting…just in case.
In the modern age of smart phones and smart toys and smart everything, I think books about the power of the imagination are more important than ever. And this one is simple, lovely, and just the thing to lead readers to go looking for holes in the ground and trees in their neighbourhoods and wonder what somethings might be inside.