What’s in the hole?
Mystery and possibility, that’s what.
It’s no surprise that we are tickled by the notion.
I remember an art student who used to go to the same bar when we were in our early twenties; his project was trying to sell people “holes”, circles he had cut from black vinyl.
Reading Kelly Canby’s The Hole Story (Fremantle Press, 2018) reminded me of Tom’s holes. In Canby’s book, her character Charlie finds a hole and picks it up. His initial delight fades when he finds it very difficult to find anywhere to put it (his pocket? his backpack?). Visiting all the shops on the street – an arachnid and reptile store, a seamstress, a boat builder – Charlie finds that his hole is the last thing they want or need. Eventually he tosses it back to the ground and walks away. But one creature has been following Charlie all the time, and happily takes – or retakes – possession of the hole as its ideal home.
The holes in Paul Bright and illustrator Bruce Ingman’s whimsical The Hole Story (Andersen Press, 2016) even get names: Hamish and Hermione. They live in a royal palace, but keep turning up where they’re not wanted: the queen’s knickers, the princess’ bicycle tyre, a jug of custard. Eventually, one person, the royal carpenter, sees their possibilities. The holes become part of two flutes for the Prince and Princess: “And if the flutes squeaked now and again, then maybe, just maybe, two very useful holes were squeaking with delight in their wonderful new home.”
In The Something by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan, 2014) a child loses a ball down a hole, and can’t get it back. What could be lurking down that hole? Everyone – Mum, Dad, sister friends, grandparents – has their own theory, even the family dog. Is it full of frogs or does it house a troll, a dragon, a badger or a family of rabbits? In Cobb’s charming, funny and relatable images, all the possibilities are explored. Importantly, we never find out the answer. The mystery remains and the child keeps watching, waiting and imagining.
Of course, as I wrote this, I came across another promising-looking holey book: The Hole Idea by Beth and Paul Macdonald, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom… We’ll track that one down next.
Have you come across any other brilliant holey reads?