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THE LITTLE GENTLEMAN by Philippa Pearce Kirkus Star


by Philippa Pearce & illustrated by Tom Pohrt

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-073160-5
Publisher: Greenwillow

When the invalided Mr. Franklin engages Bet, his housekeeper’s young granddaughter, to read aloud to no one in particular in the meadow outside his house, she soon discovers that she is, in fact, reading aloud to a mole—no ordinary mole, but a magicked mole, who has been cursed with eternal life and the capacity for human intelligence and speech. What ensues is a deliberate tale of friendship and belonging, as the mole confides his desire to lose his magic and become “wholly mole” and Bet responds in kind, revealing her essential loneliness and her anxiety over returning to the mother who left her at birth. Best known for her 1958 classic, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Pearce here delivers another small gem, in which what is told takes back seat to the telling. The give-and-take of the relationship between girl and mole is beautifully rendered, their growing affection and need for each other presented with precise understatement. When they resolve to reverse the magic and return the mole to his natural state, Bet’s agony of decision is entirely believable, and very nearly tragic. Perfectly unusual, perfectly lovely. (Fiction. 8-12)