From School Library Journal
Grade 1–3—Tobias, a mole with an unusual bird-shaped head and dolphinlike grin, enjoys a solitary life digging tunnels and collecting shiny pebbles. When he invites a neighbor to see his prized collection, his visitor warns him that there are robbers nearby who "especially love shiny pebbles." Tobias frantically hides, moves, and rehides the pebbles, becoming so exhausted that he falls asleep, waking to find the treasure has been stolen by his visitor, who leaves behind a single colored stone and a mocking note. The soft-focus colored-pencil shades and patterns of the pebbles become more intricate over time as Tobias's collection expands, and Delessert's use of the same medium conveys an increasing sense of panic with ominous swirls and outsize shapes as Tobias is preoccupied with thoughts of the impending intruders. The main character dominates the page when he is happily admiring his collection and is drawn small as though overwhelmed by his fears in scenes prior to the robbery. His nightmarish worries may be frightening to small children at first, but these images are offset by those of the colorful patterned stones. Tobias certainly seems to bounce back quickly, resolving to gather new stones (in the next spread he has an impressive new collection) and be wiser next time. The message of sharing secrets with strangers, and, for older students, the folly of obsessing over material possessions may be worthy discussion points.—Lynne Mattern, Robert Seaman School, Jericho, NY
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A dark fable about the power of thought. . . . Delessert's willingness to enter the recesses of Tobias's mind . . . shows how seriously he takes children.
Not trusting strangers is always worth discussing, and Delessert's art is always worth a look.