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Tales from the Waterhole
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Tales from the Waterhole

by Bob Graham

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The extraordinarily gifted illustrator and storyteller Bob Graham turns his distinctive attention to the animals of the African plains.

Morris the crocodile and his best friend, Billy, a tortoise, like nothing better than messing around down at the waterhole. After all, that’s where their friends gather: zebras, hippos, giraffes, elephants,


The extraordinarily gifted illustrator and storyteller Bob Graham turns his distinctive attention to the animals of the African plains.

Morris the crocodile and his best friend, Billy, a tortoise, like nothing better than messing around down at the waterhole. After all, that’s where their friends gather: zebras, hippos, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, and all the rest. In five amusing stories, Morris and company do just what kids do during a long, hot summer- perform ill-timed stunts on the diving board, get soundly beaten by a team of moms in a soccer match, or see their wildebeest friends off on vacation (also known as their annual migration). By turns wry and laugh-out-loud funny, Bob Graham’s whimsical waterhole gang pays tribute to the merriment and mishaps of young friendships everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Graham (Max) paints an African waterhole as a hive of activity, especially during a hot summer, and especially for the quirkily charming cast of animal pals in this illustrated collection of five related tales. Morris the crocodile finds no shortage of fun "mess[ing] around down at the waterhole" even if he has to look after his younger brother Little Bob or sometimes wait for his best friend Billy, a tortoise, to catch up. Whether he's rounding up a game of soccer (only to compete against a surprise team of moms) or trying to impress his first crush, Wendy Warthog, Morris approaches each lazy, hazy day with admirable gusto. Graham pulls out all his signature strengths-amusing and believable scenarios; gentle, kid-like emotional underpinnings; and some belly-laugh humor-to keep these stories on a roll. Waldo Wildebeest's description of his family's impending vacation is particularly hilarious. Readers graduating from picture books to chapter books will find this an enjoyable transition, and Graham fans will not be disappointed. Snappy ink-and-watercolor vignettes provide perfect accompaniment for the text; the array of colorful animal bathing suits alone is worth poring over the pictures again and again. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What could be more natural than your mother looking like a fruit salad at the waterhole? This easy chapter book presents a life common to most readers, though presented through a more diverse neighborhood than normal. This neighborhood is the African Savanna, and the families include alligators, turtles, warthogs, giraffes, lions and hippopotamuses. Though ordinary neighbors may act like wildlife at times, these neighborly creatures provide a sense of community and tolerance rarely seen among such a variety of critters. Morris and his best friend Billy appear to get in a fight when they "...went outside and beat each other up." The roughest they get is to swish at the air, shuffle and grunt while circling each other. All this because Morris was defending his mother. The pick-up soccer game is crashed by—of all things—Morris' friends' mothers, and they do not even let their children win. Morris has a summer crush on Wendy Warthog. He tries to impress her with his diving prowess at the waterhole. Candlewick Press always creates attractive books and this is no exception. The characters are presented as gentle, normal children and parents. The colors are bright, but soothing and certain to attract readers of all ages. 2004, Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 8.
—Elizabeth Young
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
This is a great book for beginning readers. It consists of five short stories about Morris the crocodile and his friend, Billy the tortoise. They live on the savannah in Africa and spend the summer having fun at the local waterhole with their families and other animal friends. The themes of family relationships and friendships are found in all of the stories. When it is time for the Wilderbeest family to take their annual trek, Morris persuades his dad to lend them their dinghy for river crossings and also promises to feed Waldo's pet fish until they return. Children who have enjoyed the "Frog and Toad" and "George and Martha" books are sure to enjoy this volume. The droll, light-hearted text is accompanied by wonderful pen and ink/watercolor illustrations that perfectly portray the various characters and their activities. The illustration showing Morris, Gerard Giraffe, and their mothers trying on new jeans is just one example and is certain to bring lots of laughter. By all means, add this book to the early reading section. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-"Here they come-puffing and grunting, towels flapping, caps flying-. The rains are over. The waterhole is full." It's summertime on the African savanna, creating a carefree opportunity for Morris the crocodile and his animal friends to play, share in community events, and challenge one another. Graham's five short stories revolve around themes of friendship and family relationships and feature vacation-time activities that will be familiar to many children. In the first chapter, Morris has a confrontation with his friend Billy the tortoise (who thinks Morris's mother looks like a fruit salad in her new bathing suit) but the two eventually make up. In succeeding tales, the moms take on the kids for a vigorous soccer match; Morris tries to impress Wendy the warthog with his skateboard stunts; and the friends sympathize with Waldo Wildebeest, who is not looking forward to a long walking vacation with his family. In the final installment, the young animals purchase new clothes to look their best for the annual celebration of the coming of the "long rains." Only Morris's couch-bound dad receives an unsympathetic portrait. Done in watercolor, pen, and ink, the cartoon illustrations colorfully depict the antics of the endearing characters. Generous white space and a large font create a bridge to longer chapter books for beginning readers. An amusing summertime romp.-Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Messing around at the waterhole" pretty much sums up summer vacation for the animal friends in Graham's newest offering. Five amusing chapters, punctuated by his familiar watercolor illustrations, will bring a smile to young readers' faces. Morris the crocodile and Billy the tortoise are best friends who play, swim, wrestle, and play soccer-all the things that should make up a long, relaxed summer vacation. When Morris's mother buys a swimsuit that Billy thinks makes her look "like a fruit salad," Morris defends his mother's honor in a wresting match that ends when Billy gets flipped onto his shell. But they are friends, and friends help each other up. Morris, in his bid to impress Wendy Warthog, attempts a skateboard trick that does nothing but soak everyone. It's the little things that matter in this warm ode to the unplanned days of summer. Friends of George and Martha or Frog and Toad will read these connected stories over and over. (Easy reader. 4-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Candlewick Sparks Series
Product dimensions:
7.36(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.50(d)
AD490L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Bob Graham is the award-winning creator of many books for children, including JETHRO BYRD, FAIRY CHILD, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal; "LET'S GET A PUP!" SAID KATE, a BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK Award winner; and MAX, a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Best Book of the Year. Of TALES FROM THE WATERHOLE, he says, "As an author, I have loved spending time with Morris, Billy, and friends. I’ve been able to send them down to swim and play at the waterhole for endless hours — unaccompanied by their parents. What freedom! At this waterhole, there is no ‘nature red in tooth and claw.’ Here they string up colored lights at dusk, dance, and take party photos. I might just go and live there." Bob Graham currently lives in Australia.

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