I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me find a picture book from my childhood that I have been searching for for years. My mum borrowed it from our local library (in Victoria, Australia) sometime in the 90s, perhaps any time from 1997 onwards. It was a dark (both in theme and illustration style) picture book with detailed illustrations similar to those of Gary Crew’s The Watertower. I think it was designed for older readers (8-12 years). I used to think the title was Is Any Body There?, but I’ve searched so many libraries, bookstores and databases for it that I must have got the title wrong.
In the book, the protagonist is walking through different landscapes that have recently been destroyed by something or someone. The protagonist walks into the woods and says “Is any body there?” (or something along those lines). The wood’s inhabitants reply something like “Yes, somebody was here”, and the trees say something like “It took our branches”. I think other animals in the woodland also said that they had parts stolen from them, but I can only remember the trees.
The protagonist continues journeying and reaches a lake, where they also say, “Is any body there?”. The inhabitants of the lake also respond “Yes, somebody was here”, and say that something stole their body parts too. I can only remember the fish saying “It stole our eyes”. The illustrations very vividly depicted the fish under the water, with empty eye sockets.
The protagonist follows the trail of destruction through several other landscapes (sorry, I can’t remember them) and arrives at a house in a forest (I think). The protagonist makes their way to the basement, where they say for the final time, “Is any body there?”. A response comes from the darkness: “Yes, some body is here”. On the final page, there is a detailed illustration of a monster that is clearly constructed from all of the parts stolen from the animals, trees and environments.
The illustrations were in dark, earthy shades and I think it’s possible that the narration was either first- or second-person to heighten the immersion, but I can’t remember much more about the book than that. I’ve spoken to several librarians (including one who worked at the library we borrowed the book from originally) and booksellers, and no one knows of this book. Only my sister remembers it, otherwise I would have thought I’d fabricated it entirely.
Any help in solving this would be very, very much appreciated – this mystery has been annoying me for too long!