Yesterday I walked into Hatchards at St Pancras Station, walked over to the picture book section and began browsing. I kept returning to this book. The title intrigued me and the clear white spaces on the cover drew me in as did the beguiling child friendly feel of the illustrations.
Then I read the story and I couldn't put it down and have been reading it ever since. It begins with the words; ‘Underneath the cherry tree in our garden there is a little hole. We found it one day when I bounced my ball and it didn't bounce back.’
A child loses their ball down a hole and begins to wonder what is down there. The simplest of story lines and yet so much happens. Everyone has an opinion about what is down the hole. Mum thinks it might be a doorway into a mouse’s house, someone else thinks it could be a troll down there or is it a dragon’s den. Grandma and Grandpa are more realistic in their opinions. They think it might be a mole or a badger. The important thing is that everyone has different ideas about it even the dog.
The mystery of The Something is never solved and the child simply enjoys quietly watching, waiting and imagining what lies beneath.
The text has a lovely lyrical rhythm that is a delight to read aloud. It is full of gentle touches. You are not sure if the child is a boy or a girl – they are just a child. One of the child’s friends is in a wheelchair. The weather and the tree are constantly changing. Each illustration shows what might have happened to the ball down the hole.
This is a story about looking, thinking and asking questions. It is about being happy with not knowing all the answers but keeping watch anyway in the hope that something surprising will appear.
Published by Macmillan
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