From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5–When Mr. Franklin is laid up with a broken leg, he asks young Bet, the granddaughter of his cleaning woman, to read aloud in what appears to be an empty meadow. It turns out that her audience is a mole, who befriends Bet and tells her of the inadvertent role he played in the death of King William III and his subsequent transformation by a witch from an ordinary animal into one that is immortal, intelligent, and able to speak. Partly the tale of the creature's 300 years of travails, this is also the story of the friendship between Bet and the mole, and of the child's life, in which complications are taking place. Her final dilemma, in which she must decide whether or not to help the mole transform back into his true and natural self, is wrenching; she must balance losing the kindest, wittiest, and most concerned friend one could ever have with sacrificing that friend's good opinion of her. There are plenty of exciting and dangerous events in this humorous and moving novel, both on the surface and underneath, but the numerous tiny, perfect moments are what make it magical.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 4-6. Pearce writes intelligently, stretching her readers, yet providing stories that intrigue them at their own level. That's certainly true in this case, which finds Bet, who lives in the British countryside, communing with a talking mole, whose brush with witchcraft has given him memory, speech, and everlasting life. The book walks the line between pure fantasy and magic realism. Bet is asked by her grandmother's employer, Mr. Franklin, to read aloud in the garden to an unseen creature. By the time the mole, Little Gentleman, makes himself known, children will be caught up in the mystery of who the mole is and where he came from. Unfortunately, that's the stumbling block for U.S. readers. A rather long reading by Bet explains how this mole was responsible for the death of King William in the eighteenth century and reconstructs the plot to restore King James III to the British crown. This discourse breaks the story's flow, and though the tale has much enchantment and energy, some kids will put it down. That's too bad because Pearce's elegant writing smooths other flaws. Who else can slip in a word like chthonic
with grace and ease? Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved