cover image A Hole in the Wall

A Hole in the Wall

Hans Wilhelm. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3535-7

In a story inspired by Mark Twain’s “A Fable,” which is reprinted at the end of the book, a dog peers into a hole in a wall and spies another dog. (Unlike the dog, readers will instantly recognize that the hole is actually a mirror.) The dog tells his friends—a warthog, lion, and elephant—about what he has seen, prompting the animals to check out the hole for themselves. Wilhelm (Look Who’s Peeking!) creates a pattern that invites children to chime in as the animals report their findings: “The dog is wrong. I saw a warthog,” says the warthog. When these conflicting discoveries cause a rift (“The friends were mad”), the animals stomp off together to visit the hole and, in viewing all of their reflections, “Everyone was happy because everyone was right! The language may be simple, but Wilhelm’s loosely outlined cartoon animals never lack for emotions, their exaggerated facial expressions highlighting their curiosity, skepticism, anger, and eventual delight. It’s an amusing addition to the bookshelf of stories that let children feel smarter than the characters they are reading about. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)