CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 24. . . .February 22, 2013
When Danny’s parents announce they are moving, one to New York and one to Banff, and Danny and his brother Doug will shuttle between the two, Danny is hurt and angry and decides to run away. Accidentally falling into a hole on a deserted construction site, he spends the better part of two days in the hole until his dog Thwack helps emergency services find him. Along the way, Danny uses what’s in his backpack for food and shelter, and he is joined by a mole (named Mole) with whom he finds he can communicate, sharing his feelings and helping the mole survive a snake attack. Danny is then reunited with his family, his anger subsiding into potential acceptance.
A thoroughly engrossing short tale, this book is typical Fagan: fantastical yet familiar, timeless, and with just the right touch of sentiment and seriousness. Channeling his inner Dahl, Fagan constructs a world where well-meaning adults just don’t understand kids and what they think is important, where life lessons can come from the littlest things, where kids might be self-centered and toy-obsessed, but they still have wisdom.
The unexpected, unexplained Mole, which might come across as clumsy in another author’s hands, is a cynical, wisecracking, droll character that carries the humour and wit of the story. Whether explaining his mundane “life story”, performing poetry (“dirt dirt DIRT dig-diggedy-diggg…”), or expounding on the annoying habits of humans, Mole proves the perfect counterpart to Danny’s earnestness. When, as Danny is being rescued, Mole allows Danny to pet him, and Danny gives him his harmonica, these small signs of friendship are credible, even expected, without being overly sentimental.
A great read-aloud tale, Danny, Who Fell in a Hole will appeal to a wide variety of readers as light fare that nonetheless gives readers more than it takes.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.