cover image BRAVEMOLE


Lynne Jonell, . . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23962-5

Jonell (Mommy, Go Away!) here reenacts the events of September 11 through the eyes of an animal who perhaps can help young readers to shoulder their fears. Mole wears a hard-hat, carries a lunch pail and lives in a burrow with his molewife and babymole. Softly shaded pastels portray their warm haven filled with comfy chairs and braided rugs. When Mole tells Babymole a bedtime story about dragons, Babymole asks, "Will a dragon come to get me, Daddy?" "No, Son." Mole says. "Dragons are far away from my little babymole." But the very next day, two terrifying dragons destroy the tallest molehills in the city. From a sheltered spot amidst the wreckage, Mole feels called to return and help others. Jonell plants a spiritual undercurrent with references to Mole's prayers to an Overmole. She draws a contrast between Mole (as an "ordinary mole") and the "Bigmoles" and "Smartmoles" that emphasizes the importance of everyday heroes, yet youngsters may not understand the social distinction or the idea of working-class firefighters, police officers and others rescuing elite stockbrokers. The stronger theme underscores the tenuous reassurance between father and son: upon Mole's return home that night, Babymole asks, "Will I get to go fight the dragons, Daddy?" "No," replies Mole. "We grown-ups will fight them for you." Images of the moles fleeing the fire and the dragons' attack may make this best suited for reading with an adult, as well as for children who already know about the events of that day. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)