The Mole Sisters and the Question – by Roslyn Schwartz

Can moles really swim like this?

The Mole Sisters are kidlit protagonists whom I recognize immediately (small square books, delicate and dusty illustrations, cute little moles), but have never read. So as a part of my books-about-girls crusade, I thought I should pick one up and see what I think.

This is a picture book for your local (tiny) existentialist. The mole sisters are lazing around watching the clouds go by and – I think – are a bit bored, when they start (gasp!) thinking. They come up with The Question, and thus begins the story.

The Question is a relatively heavy one: “Who are we?” Good grief. If the Mole Sisters knew the answer to that question, they would be tiny little fictional Nobel Laureates. Luckily for parents (who may not want to answer philosophical questions posed by small people) the author/illustrator provides concrete and easy answers. The Mole Sisters play in the water and decide they are not fish. They make shadow puppets in the sand and decide that they are not birds. They explore a gi-normous snail shell and decide that they are not snails. They are…the mole sisters, of course! “And that,” ends the book, “was enough thinking for one day.”

The synopsis sounds bland – and to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot going on in this book. But the illustrations are cunning (in the way that kittens and babies might be). The mole sisters ponder their existence almost absent-mindedly. For them, it’s really an excuse to blow bubbles at fish, float in the weeds, giggle at each other, and bury themselves in the sand.

I get the feeling that we’re supposed to see children reflected in the Mole Sisters: playing, wondering, and then deciding that’s enough for one day. I’m not sure that I buy it. That said, at an average of four words and one illustration per page, what can you expect? Only an easy book for very small children and a very, very quick read.

Reading ages: Very small.  There just isn’t enough here to hold an older child’s attention.

Rating:  B-.  I mean, there’s nothing offensive or wrong about it.  It just struck me as banal.  I’m going to try other Mole Sister books and see what I think of them, though, because this is a series…so there must be something I missed.

Random fact: According to the book, the author lives in Montreal.  SIGH.

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