Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Mole Family's Christmas

The Mole Family's Christmas
Russell and Lillian Hoban
Parents' Magazine Press, 1969

Precursor to the Hoban's more famous Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas is this sweet ditty of a story about a family of moles who discover the magic of Christmas... or at least, that if you ask the jolly old fat man for some loot, he'll usually come through.

Harley Mole and his son Delver did straight mole work. They tunneled and they dug and they brought home the groceries. Harley and Delver wore overalls and thick boots and heavy work gloves. They wore thick glasses, because the whole Mole family was very nearsighted, and they had little lanterns in their caps, because they tunneled in the dark.

One occupational hazard of this kind of work is never coming to the surface to know what's going on in the rest of the world, so when little Delver comes up for a look around and meets a mouse who tells him about Christmas and Santa Claus and presents... and then he finds out there are things called stars that (due to his lousy eyesight) he can't see... Well, what's a little mole to do except build a chimney for Santa to come down and write him a letter asking for a telescope. No cut and dry story, there's a hungry owl in the mix and lots of good, honest hard work, but the ending has the whole Mole clan seeing stars.

The illustrations shine here in that classic Hoban way. Sharp little pencil strokes creating a ton of personality. Plus, those Coke bottle glasses kill me. Two candy canes up!

Also by:
Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas


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  1. I just read this one to my 4 year olds tonight--really wonderful--the longing-to-see-the-stars is so touching--and the parents' admiration of their little mole. Thanks for sharing all these--I've gotten so many good ideas. You're the best!

  2. When I was a little girl, my mom enrolled me in a kids'book of the month club and this book was one of the selections and my favorite. It's original and sweet and one of the few stories with a subversive agnostic angle to Christmas that doesn't put being agnostic in a bad light. It's presented as just another point of view. I haven't read it in a while, but it's part of my permanent collection.

  3. this is absolutely my favorite Christmas book, I was 6 yrs old when we got the book in the mail in 1969 and I still have the original book. Miss Suzy, Miss Twiggly's Tree, The Hat, Junk Day on Juniper Street, Old Black Witch and Only John, I still can remember sitting with my mother reading those books with her. I read to my children also, but they just don't hold that magic spell over them like they did with me.

  4. I just came across your blog while searching for this book. Now I will be up all night going through each and every post :) I had no idea there were other people out there as obsessed with old children's books as I am! Awesome.