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MOLE AND THE BABY BIRD by Marjorie Newman

MOLE AND THE BABY BIRD

By Marjorie Newman (Author) , Patrick Benson (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-58234-784-0
Publisher: Bloomsbury

An old adage (“If you love someone set them free”) and a message about respect for nature combine in this sweet story. Newman tells it simply, with just a few lines of text per page (“Mole found a baby bird. It had fallen out of its nest”). Benson’s (Squeak’s Good Idea, 2001, etc.) delicate illustrations, which appear to be rendered in watercolor and pen and ink, are similarly unadulterated. In the opening spread, for example, Mole—wide-eyed with his paws behind his back—observes the wayward baby. On the facing page, the two appear in nearly the same position with only their expressions changed (Mole bemused, the bird confused). When Mole brings the bird home to his parents, they offer an honest assessment of what it means to care for such a creature. “They usually die,” says his father. Still, Mole is determined to beat the odds and, under his care, the bird prospers. But when it tries to fly, Mole moves swiftly to keep the bird grounded. Benson’s vignettes are full of touching detail: as Mole transports lumber to build a cage, for example, the bird carries nails in his beak. Only Grandpa can help Mole see the animal’s true nature and, in the end, Mole does what’s best for the bird. This enjoyable story is so subtly crafted, with text and illustration so perfectly paired, that youngsters will eagerly read between the lines, making it a natural choice for read-aloud sessions and a good starting place for discussions about the environment, relationships, and more. (Picture book. 5-8)