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The Little Gentleman Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 5, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; First US Printing edition (October 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060731605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060731601
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,782,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The mole I've known the longest is the funky-looking critter who makes a very brief appearance in Shel Silverstein's A GIRAFFE AND A HALF. The mole whose story has meant the most to me is the hopeful and persistent character in David McPhail's MOLE MUSIC. Then there is that most gracious host to tired little bunnies in the Barbara Cooney-illustrated SEVEN LITTLE RABBITS. (The music cassette accompanying that book is forever imprinted on my brain after my having played it as part of several thousand naptimes during my former preschool career.)

There is, in fact, a whole delightful assortment of moles in children's literature. But I'm seeing the mole (Condylura cristata) in a whole new light after being enchanted by the subterranean-dwelling "little gentleman in black velvet" who is at the center of Philippa Pearce's latest book.

"...Mole he is burrowing

his way to the sunlight

He knows there's someone there so strong..."

--Moody Blues, "Watching and Waiting"

Bet lives with her grandparents. Her grandmother tends to Mr. Franklin and to Mr. Franklin's home, and Bet frequently accompanies her grandmother there when not at school. When Mr. Franklin becomes indisposed--having fallen from a ladder and broken his leg--he enlists Bet to sit at the log out on the riverbank by herself and read aloud. Thus the girl comes to meet that most unique mole who is not only well-spoken in the King's English, but is also inadvertently responsible for a pivotal incident in the annals of the British monarchy and, thereby, the subject of a well-known historic toast.

But despite all of that, he is still a most down-to-earth fellow:

"The mole spoke as if indeed in mid-flow of neighborly chat:'...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book rocks!!! I think this is the best book I have read all year. My favorite part was when Moon was chasing Mole. Moon was trying to catch Mole so he could eat him. Then, Bet threw a book at Moon and he ran away like a scaredy cat. That's why I liked this book.

Maura W.
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By mike jones on June 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book that I read was called The Little Gentleman. The book was about a man called "Mr. Franklin" that has broken his leg and a lady named "Ms. Miller" she took her granddaughter to help her clean the mans house. Then he tells the girl one day that she should go to the meadow to read out loud. After a couple of days a beaver comes and listens to her read. They become friends and he tells her that if any intruder comes to yell a word. After the man has heal his leg he stars to read to himself out loud.
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A Kid's Review on January 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book rocks! I think it is the best book I have read this year. My favorite part was when Moon was chasing Mole. Moon was trying to catch Mole so he could eat him. Then, Bet threw the book at Moon and he ran away. I think that was funny. So that's why I think this book rocks!

Maura W
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