cover image Mole's Hill: A Woodland Tale

Mole's Hill: A Woodland Tale

Lois Ehlert. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-255116-2

Inspired by a Seneca tale, this is a whimsical story of overcoming the might of an adversary through ingenuity. Fox, irritated at having to walk around Mole's hill, sends Skunk and Raccoon to direct her to move by autumn. Clever Mole enlarges the hill, then plants seeds, creating such a lush mound that even Fox cannot bring himself to destroy it; instead, he asks Mole to dig a tunnel so that the animals' path can go through her hill from now on. Once again Ehlert achieves dazzling effects with simple geometric shapes and strong, pure hues. Here, she uses appliques in bright, largely primary colors, often textured with tiny, bead-like dots. Mole's hill is glorious in its various incarnations: unplanted, as concentric rings of red, blue and green against an inky sky; in full bloom, with a riot of flowers, leaves and berries against the iridescent yellow of summer sunlight. And as always, her figures are remarkably expressive, with Mole a model of industriousness and, later, contentment, and Skunk and Raccoon looking quizzical indeed as they wonder ``what that Mole is up to.'' Ages 3-8. (Apr.)