The books of Graeme Base captivate children of all ages with their breathtaking illustrations. The detailed stories take school aged children on a journey through a host of important, modern day themes and today Lauren shares five of her favourites, matched with activity suggestions to share with the children in your life.
One of my favourite Australian author/illustrators is Graeme Base. I remember being enthralled by The Eleventh Hour as a 10 year old when we were all away together at the family shack and my cousin received it for Christmas. We spent hours examining the detail in the pictures and looking for the clues on every page to figure out who stole the feast. Our parents weren’t going to let us open the secret envelope until we had exhausted every option and idea to solve the case. The whole family got involved cracking the alphabet code and unravelling the mystery. So exciting as a 10 year old – and a memory that really sticks out in my mind 20 years later! Now that’s how you know a good book. How fantastic would it be to host an ‘Eleventh Hour’ themed 11th birthday party?
Get your copy: The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery
Activity idea: Create your own coded messages with a DIY cipher wheel (via Frugal Fun for Boys)
Another favourite of this era was Animalia, a cleverly written adventure through the alphabet. There is so much to see in each page as you look for all the things starting with that letter, as well as hunting for the cheeky boy in the yellow and red striped jumper and blue jeans. There’s something so inviting for children to have a job to do while they read or listen to a book – something to find on each page. Some teacher friends I know draw inspiration from this book for their weekly handwriting lessons to get the children’s minds thinking about words beginning with the letter of the day. This is a must have on your classroom bookshelf (and at home too for children aged 4 and up).
Get your copy: Animalia
Activity idea: Enjoy your very own neighbourhood alphabet hunt (via No Time for Flashcards)
Moving on from letters to numbers – The Waterhole – takes you on a counting journey from 1-10, alongside the themes of size (as the water hole reduces in size), the needs of living things, and weather cycles. The page with the single raindrop is one of the most stunning pieces of artwork I’ve seen in any children’s book. And I think that’s the special thing about Graeme Base’s books – the illustrations are breathtaking, enchanting works of art. Another interesting feature of this book is the holes in each page depicting the water hole, another interesting detail that brings the story to life – much like the holes in the fruit in The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Get your copy: The Waterhole
Activity idea: Ideas for teaching kids to conserve water (via Edventures with Kids)
Sticking with the mathematics theme, Uno’s Garden delves into multiplication and the necessity of environmental harmony and balance. The visuals and real life examples in this book can be a great way to help children in Grades 3-4 wrap their heads around multiplication. Younger children will still enjoy it mind you (I’ve read it to Miss 2 before) – they just observe the buildings increasing while the plants decrease, and of course everyone loves the funny and crazy imaginary animals who inhabit this special land.
Activity idea: Be inspired by Uno to explore our bumper list of 50 nature based activity ideas
Reinforcing the important messages of self-confidence and the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’ is Jungle Drums. It’s a great starting point for discussions about being happy in your own skin, and not trying to be like someone else. There’s just the right about of light-hearted humor in the book to balance this thoughtful message. Be prepared for giggles when the animals start to change! In the past I’ve introduced actual drums for the children to play while reading this story, which was a huge success.
Get your copy: Jungle Drums
Activity idea: Make and play your own drums with these fun activities featured at Growing Book by Book
More of Graeme Base’s titles include;
- The Sign of the Seahorse
- The Discovery of Dragons
- Truck Dogs
- Enigma: A Magical Mystery
- The Legend of the Golden Snail
- The Jewel Fish of Karnak
- Little Elephants
- The Last King of Angkor Wat
- My Grandma lived in Gooligulch
- The Worst Band in the Universe
- Eye to Eye
There are also early readers! I was so excited when I saw these Little Bug Books, and they’re non-fiction which can be a difficult genre to find for young readers.
Learn more about Graeme Base and his life and work.
If you’re interested in taking an author study approach with your class, here are a few I’ve written in the past over on my blog, Teacher Types;