The Hole Story, written and illustrated by Kelly Canby (Fremantle Press)

Book cover for The hole story

One day Charlie finds a hole.

      A hole of his very own!

                          He picks it up and pops it in his pocket.
But it doesn’t take Charlie long to realise that a hole in your pocket is not a good thing to have…

Charlie finds a hole out in a field and thinks he’s found something great. He picks it up and takes it with him but, after a few mishaps, decides “this hole is no good at all” and sets off into town to find someone who might want it.

He sees the pet shop owner, a boat builder and a seamstress but the last thing they want is a hole in their work. What a disaster that would be! He goes further on and tries a gardener and a road worker – surely they would have a use for a hole? – but the gardener has already dug all he needs and the road worker has a huge hole he needs to fill in!

Not even the lady making fresh donuts, “I have a machine that makes those for me.”

I always enjoy a children’s book that takes a deceptively simple scenario and, with a bit of clever storytelling, brings the reader on an active journey of thoughts and ideas, not just through the passive progress of the plot. The story is a funny, varied and interesting little adventure in itself but by moving the hole around to different locations and interacting with different people the author also makes us think a bit more conceptually about what a hole actually is; what it is (or isn’t) useful for; who it may or may not seem useful for and who even wants or needs it.

The hole, as far as Charlie can tell, isn’t wanted by anyone! “This hole is no good at all,” he repeats at the end. He leaves it back where he found it, on the ground in a field. As with any good picture book there is as much story being told in the illustrations as with the words on the page and here, at the end « no spoilers » comes the final bit of clever storytelling. We realise, if we flick back through all the pages and look closely, that someone has been following Charlie from the very beginning – all the way through the story and they do indeed want a hole!

Then, one more page and we see … there are dozens of characters who’d love a hole for themselves, we just don’t think to ask.

I give this book a four and a half holes out of five – it could have been five but the road worker keeps filling the last one in while the poor gardener keeps trying to dig it out! I’d better give him a hand. It’ll be ready tomorrow.