cover image Uno's Garden

Uno's Garden

Graeme Base, . . Abrams, $19.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5473-1

Base (The Water Hole ) here accessibly dives into such ecological themes as extinction, overpopulation and the balance of nature. Uno, with elongated face and bulbous nose, builds his home in an exotic forest. His one house quickly gives way to a village and finally, a polluted city devoid of animals and plants—except for those preserved in the hero's small garden. Rebus-like equations in the upper right corner of each page or spread catalogue the decreasing flora and fauna, and the increase in the number of buildings. Children will appreciate the composite animals with names such as Lumpybums (one-eyed, duck-billed monkeys with purple bumps on their backsides). Though the animals begin to disappear with the encroachment of the city, they make a comeback by book's end—with the exception of the mysterious Snortlepig (a hybrid of armadillo, dog and pig). The book's large square trim size and polished spreads, aided by the tally of creatures on the top borders, invite readers to participate in a seek-and-find. Reflecting the theme of balance, Base's diverse stylistic elements satisfyingly coexist (e.g., realistic renderings of fantasy animals; organically shaped foliage juxtaposed with angular skyscrapers). Just when youngsters might conclude that the human footprint is nothing but bad, Uno's garden provides the genesis for rebirth. A dramatic gatefold reveals a new, harmonious human coexistence with nature. While ending on a hopeful note about the power of one person (Uno) to make a difference, the missing Snortlepig drives home a somber point. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)