Five more books to go! Today’s story is a vintage tale from 1969 by the Hobans, The Mole Family’s Christmas.
A fine classic of a tale, this story is about a family of hard-working moles whose son, Delver, inadvertently learns about Christmas and a fat man in a red suit who visits those with chimneys. In the process, he also learns of the existence of stars, which nearsighted moles are not able to see, and about telescopes which enable better viewing of said stars. With a new longing to see the stars singing with their glimmering and shining, Delver decides to write to the man in red, chance being caught by the old owl, and make a chimney for the mole home in hopes of receiving a telescope.
The sweet mole family are hardworkers and care for each other enormously. Determined not to be disappointed, they not only help create a chimney; but they also prepare Christmas surprises for one another in case the plan doesn’t work. Despite several close encounters with the owl and a lack of knowledge about Christmas and dear S. Claus, the mole family set out to have the best—and first—Christmas they’ve ever known.
Told in an almost nonchalant manner, The Mole Family’s Christmas is such a sweet story. Given its late 60s writing, the (long) narrative tone may come across somewhat dry and less entertaining than the showy tales of current trend. But I love this book for that classic nature and for the subtle Christmas spirit which shines through the genuine love and care the mole family has for each other. Selflessness, hard work, thoughtfulness, and seeking the best for each other even if the desires are silly and difficult; these are character traits worth reading about. But don’t let me fool you, there is action in this as well with that dreadful old owl. Yet even he finds a little Christmas spirit of his own.
The renowned author, Russell Hoban, was also a trained illustrator; yet he called himself “an addict to writing.” With many books under his belt, his most famous and considered classics in children literature are the Frances the Badger series and The Mouse and His Child.
Many of Russell Hoban’s early books were illustrated by his first wife, Lillian. She also authored a famous series of her own with the I-Can-Read hero Arthur. “When I am writing, I like writing best, and when I am drawing, I like drawing best. But probably what I like better than anything is just messing around with color.” (source) Her style with this book is light and sketchy with a soft palette of color details. I particularly love how well she makes you feel the smallness of the mole’s home and the vastness of the outside world with her images.
Join this animal family in their first Christmas and don’t forget to admire the stars tonight too.
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas Books.