With just a few words at the beginning and ending of the book, this nearly wordless picture book looks at progress. It begins with one lone mole moving into a green meadow. He was soon joined by more moles and each dug out space of their very own. Soon there was electricity, plumbing and heat. The shaft got larger and deeper and then large machinery was used to dig the tunnels. The meadow was dotted with mounds. Public transport was added, cities grew up, apartments were jammed closely together, traffic was awful, and the lush green meadow disappeared. But not quite.
Kuhlmann shows human progress but with a mole point of view. His gorgeous illustrations show the wheels of change, the machinery of digging, the way that progress takes over and has a speed all of its own. It is a story that is dark and sad, one that shows that starting with a lone mole and freedom to make choices can quickly turn into a society bound by the machines that once built it. Much like our own, perhaps exactly like our own.
As I mentioned, it is Kuhlmann’s illustrations that show all of this without words. Each illustration is detailed and lush. The little mole homes are cleverly depicted from the happiness of the early days to the jammed apartments at the end. I particularly enjoyed the page filled with paperwork and records with one bored mole at a desk. All of these work together to show what loss was suffered with progress.
A book to start discussions or to pore over on your own, this picture book takes a mole-eye view of what we humans are doing to ourselves. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from library copy.