Have shovel, will dig. Such is the simplicity of young Mole's experiences in this warm look at appreciating the small, often unexpected, joys in one's life. Armed with his new shovel and a miner's lighted hardhat, Mole sets to digging for treasure. A twig, a shell and an acorn don't seem to be what he's looking for, but Bird, Snail and Squirrel, respectively, find the items, given to them by Mole, mighty useful. At last, Mole comes upon a treasure of no comparison: a friendly mole digging in the opposite direction. Jane Hillenbrand's debut picture book shines with a feel-good, spare text that goes right to the heart of universal childhood emotions. Will Hillenbrand's (Don't Kiss the Cow) mixed-media artwork exudes a lighthearted tone via boldly outlined shapes and sweetly anthropomorphized characters. The varying textures and hues in his palette add depth and suffuse the proceedings with a happy glow. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Young Mole is just like any young kid. When he gets a new shovel, it is time to dig for treasure. His parents are encouraging and his big brother scornful as he digs on. The twig he unearths is a treasure for a bird building a nest. To a snail, a shell is a treasure for a house. Squirrel is delighted with an acorn for a "delicious dinner." And digging away, Mole is happy to say, "Keep it" to those who exclaim the refrain, "Oh, what a treasure!" Finally Mole is able to shout it himself, as he uncovers another young mole in the hole. For that is something he needs and wants, a friend to keep and join his digging. The text is brief, simple, with repetitions dear to young listeners, and rich descriptive language. Color dominates the simple double-page scenes, with subtle choices used to shape the clothes, birds, foliage, etc. with egg tempera, oil pastel, and ink. Thick black lines outline the anthropomorphic characters, helping contain the smoothly painted details. The low-key visuals allow the young reader/listener to enter and expand the adventure. Do not rush past the endpapers. 2006, Holiday House, Ages 3 to 6.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-K-Almost everyone loves to dig for treasure, and when Mole gets his new shovel, he starts immediately. He finds a twig, a shell, and an acorn, and it turns out that these things are indeed treasures for Bird, Snail, and Squirrel. But the best one from Mole's point of view appears when he meets up with the tunnel of another mole and makes a new friend. Told with minimal text, this book celebrates friendship while quietly calling attention to the fact that treasure is relative. The simple, rounded cartoon illustrations painted in ice-cream colors with thick, black outlines give the story a very sugary but gentle feel. A supplemental purchase for libraries needing more read-alouds for the youngest audiences.-Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The day that Mole gets his new shovel, he starts to dig for treasure despite his brother betting that he won't find any. The first thing Mole finds is a twig (which a bird thinks is treasure). Digging further, he finds a shell (treasure to a snail), an acorn (treasure to a squirrel) and finally, another hole where a little mole pops up-a real treasure: a friend for Mole. Will Hillenbrand's illustrations have a different look here, less detail and design, and are geared more to pre-schoolers, as is the story. Using tempera, oil pastels and ink on canvas, he relies on simple, outlined shapes with minimal features, textures and patterns against white backgrounds to match the unembellished and guileless tale. The first effort from this husband and wife team plainly conveys with animals and nature the adage, "one man's junk is another man's treasure" for early ages. (Picture book. 3-5)