The Mushroom Man

The Mushroom Man

by Ethel Pochocki, Barry Moser
A lonely worker in a mushroom farm finds the friend he longs for when he meets a mole in the park and takes him home to share his dinner.


A lonely worker in a mushroom farm finds the friend he longs for when he meets a mole in the park and takes him home to share his dinner.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW called this story of a misfit's search for companionship "a wonderfully odd tale of friendship. Moser's shadowy, offbeat style harmonizes with Pochocki's uncommonly inspired text." Ages 6-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``They called him the mushroom man, for indeed he did resemble the crop he tended. His round, oversized head was a bit too large for the rest of his body, and his flesh, pale as paste, was spongey to the touch.'' With such vivid prose Pochocki crafts a tender and unusual (but believable) tale of a misfit's search for companionship. On the same starry night he is abandoned by the cat he has adopted, the lonely mushroom farmer meets a mole. Over a shared dinner of truffles, the two become fast friends and, after the first frost, the mole becomes the man's roommate. Moser depicts their first Christmas together with great elan: the mushroom man wears the sparkly red sunglasses the mole gave him, while the mole savors his gift of imported French worms. Moser's shadowy, offbeat style harmonizes with Pochocki's uncommonly inspired text. A wonderfully odd tale of friendship. All ages. (Sept.)
Children's Literature
Because he works in a dark, moldy, mushroom factory and because the neighborhood children think he looks like a mushroom, the main character's nickname is "the mushroom man." The mushroom man is very lonely and desperately wants to find a companion. He visits the park where the squirrels entertain him. Nevertheless, when the mushroom man offers them food, they decline. Later in the park, the mushroom man encounters a beautiful white cat, who after being tempted by sardines, agrees to go home with him. The mushroom man cares for the cat for a while until the restless cat decides to move on to bigger and better things. While mourning the loss of his cat, the mushroom man meets a mole. After some discussion, the mushroom man and the mole realize they have a lot in common, specifically their love of mushrooms. A friendship forms in which these two truly unique characters cannot imagine life without each other. Rich and symbolic illustrations complement this beautifully scripted tale. Lessons about loneliness, bullying, stereotyping, loss, and the importance of friendship resonate in this piece. 2006 (orig. 1993), Tilbury House Publishers, Ages 8 to 12.
—Jamaica Johnson Conner
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In beautifully written prose, Pochocki relates the story of an elderly man who is content with his life, but still rather lonely. His occupation and his appearance set him apart from others in his town, for he works in the dark in a mushroom factory and, with his oversized head and pale white skin, even resembles the fungi with which he toils. He decides that a pet might be a friend and accept him as he is, and takes in a beautiful stray cat. But the animal, a born wanderer, leaves him. Finally he cautiously befriends just the right animal for him, a mole. Pochocki shows their developing friendship as they share truffles and Christmas gifts, both concluding that the very best gift is having a friend. This is a sweet, quiet story with a special message. Like the Mushroom man himself, it may not appeal to young children at first glance, but introducing them to it will be well worth the effort. Moser's realistic pictures are dark with just a glimmer of light. They reinforce the quiet, emotive quality of the narrative and are a fine accompaniment to the story.-Judith Gloyer, Milwaukee Public Library
Hazel Rochman
The loneliness of the freak outsider is evoked in this quiet picture book. The man who works at a mushroom farm in a long, low, windowless building rarely sees the sun; and Moser's watercolor paintings are most compelling in their depiction of the man in the darkness. Kids mock him when he passes by, but what hurts most is the ache of being alone. A cat, dazzlingly white and charming, keeps him company for a while, but it leaves, and the mushroom man is solitary again. Then he finds a mole, black-furred, blind, weary, a creature of the dark, that moves in with him, and they make a home together. The anthropomorphism gets a bit cute, and the ending is unashamedly wild: The final picture shows them sipping spicy cider in their Christmas celebration, the mushroom man in a pair of sunglasses with sparkly red rims and the mole in two pairs of green wool slipper socks (one pair for the front paws, one for the back); but the gentle comedy and droll resolution fit with the yearning of the story.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Ethel Pochocki is the mother of eight, and foster parent to seven cats. The author of many children's books, including The Gazebo, Maine Marmalade, Rosebud and Red Flannel, Wildflower Tea, A Penny for a Hundred, and The Mistletoe Girl and Other Christmas Stories, she makes her home in Brooks, Maine.

Barry Moser is an award-winning illustrator with over 200 books to his credit, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,
which won a National Book Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Design and currently serves on the faculty of the art department of
Smith College. Illustrator, designer, educator, lecturer, and essayist,
Mr. Moser lives in western Massachusetts with his wife Emily, four cats,
and an English Mastiff.

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