________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 24. . . .February 22, 2013


Danny, Who Fell in a Hole.

Cary Fagan. Illustrated by Mike Pavlovic.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2013.
116 pp., hardcover, $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-55498-311-7.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Suddenly Danny felt intensely lonely. He was still angry at his father and his mother and even his brother, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t be overjoyed to hear their voices and see them looking down the hole to find him.

Maybe they hadn’t even noticed he was missing. Or maybe they were glad. Selling the house and moving away would be a lot easier without him. That sure would solve all their problems.

It got darker and darker. Danny didn’t like the idea of being in the hole when he couldn’t see anything.

He crawled under his garbage-bag lean-to. It made him feel a little safer.

He felt cold and took his sweatshirt out of his backpack. He yanked it on, pulling the hood over his head.

His sweatshirt smelled like home. Like his dad’s spicy vegetarian stew and his mom’s rose incense. He curled up on the ground, the lumpy backpack under his head. For a long time he kept his eyes open in the darkness, listening to faint, distant sounds.

He wished that he had company. Any kind of company.


But there was no answer. Danny closed his eyes, opened them, then closed them again.


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. internal art

     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.

Highly Recommended.

Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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