The Last King of Angkor Wat by Graeme Base
Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780670077151
When the Italian non-reading male in the house picks a picture book off the ever-growing pile that has mounted up on the dining table all month, opens it up and goes 'Wow - what amazing illustrations!' - you know it's something out of the norm.
And Graeme Base is definitely something out of the norm - it hardly seems fair that one person can be so talented but for over 30 years Graeme has continued to astound and enchant readers with his astonishing art.
His latest book was inspired by a trip to Cambodia and South China - you can read more about that here. The Last King of Angkor Wat is a fable with themes of wisdom and introspection with four animals all attempting to prove their boastful claims of being the most suited to the kingship, only to be humbled by the astuteness of Elephant.
From my first Graeme Base purchase (The Eleventh Hour for no. 2 daughter who fell in love with it at school, closely followed up by backtracking to buy Animalia for no. 3 daughter) I, as well as myriad others, have been overwhelmed by his sumptuous artwork.
There is really so much to say but no need to say it about this latest title - if you have not yet seen it, be prepared to have your breath taken away yet again!
Fans will enjoy this interview from the ABC and if you missed it when it screened here is the transcript from the ABC Talking Heads interview.
From the Penguin site:
10 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT GRAEME BASE
1. He has two Bengal Cats called Stella and Atticus. Stella is spotty like a leopard; Atticus is marbled like an ocelot.
2. He has a secret way of crushing plastic milk cartons so they take up the least room possible in the recycling bin.
3. He has a strange fascination with quantum physics and astronomy and puts himself to sleep at night by reading New Scientist magazine.
4. He is a keen but so far unknown inventor of games, musical instruments and household appliances including a new kind of vacuum cleaner and a baby-stroller.
5. He learnt clarinet in school and later played alto sax and keyboards in a band called Rikitikitavi. His now-wife Robyn was the lead singer.
6. He has written several musicals based on his books including The Sign of the Seahorse, Gooligulch, The Worst Band in the Universe and Jungle Drums. They have all been performed but not nearly enough!
7. He has a nifty way of winding guitar leads and garden hoses so they don't get tangled and curly when they are unwound.
8. He has visited 40 of the 50 United States of America and all seven continents, and dislikes airport terminals more than he can adequately express.
9. He has recently rediscovered several big boxes full of old sketches and drawings that have never been published and has decided to start an Instagram post with a new drawing every day - or maybe every second day . . . we shall see!
10. He has sold over 4 million books in Australia.'