A surrealist picture book almost without words about the foundation and development of a mole city it s a bit like John Marsden s The Rabbits and a bit like JG Ballard s Billennium but has a style all its own There is a beautiful animated trailer version hereA remarkably apposite passage from Pynchon s Against the Day which I came across a couple of days laterIn the center of town some huge underground construction venture was in progress citizens stood on overpasses and catwalks azing down on concrete pits full of steam machinery draft animals and debris When asked its purpose they frowned puzzled as if they had not uite heard the visitors Home some said it s home Where is home where you come from Moletown manages to make its case by employing very few words the industrialization of Moletown has had a devastating impact on the environment and the moles seem stuck in a cycle of working and watching tv Hmmmm Torben Kuhlmann is a brilliant illustrator but I found this book to be very dark literally and depressing My kids really didn t care for this though they loved Lindbergh The Tale of a Flying Mouse and Armstrong The Adventerous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon I would highly recommend both for the creativity and universal appeal This one with its important message failed to capture the audience at my house 25 stars The fabulously talented Torben Kuhlmann the German authorillustrator who made his debut with Lindbergh The Tale of a Flying Mouse returns with this second picture book an almost wordless history of the development of Moletown Founded when one mole moves in underneath a Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism green meadow the settlement soonrows becoming ever complex and developed The surface soon shows the result of this underground urban sprawl with only a tiny patch of Boggs: A Comedy of Values greenrass leftOriginally published in German as Maulwurfstadt this Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago gorgeously illustrated cautionary tale doesn t really cover any newround when it comes to its ecological message about the dangers of overdevelopment Dr Seuss s The Lorax and Bill Peet s The Wump World have been around for many decades and impart the same message What makes Moletown stand out is Kuhlmann s beautiful artwork and the fact that his overdeveloping society is made up of moles There isn t much text here only a few pages have any words at all but the illustrations are than capable of carrying the story Recommended to fans of Kuhlmann s artwork in whose number I now count myself and to young readers who enjoy animal fiction Nearly wordless the mole society in this book makes tons of progress but at what costThis is Berlioz and the Romantic Century going to be a fantastic book to read along with The Lorax or The Little House The illustrations are so rich I think I d like multiple copies so kids can pore over the details The rise of a mole metropolis underground takes an environmental toll A stunningly illustrated cautionary tale Cautionary tales for kids who can t do a darn thing about the original problem It s sort of a subgenre of its very own As I hold this lovely little book Moletown in my hands I am transported back in time to the moment I first encountered The Lorax by Dr Seuss A child of the 80s my youth was a time when scaring kids straight was an accepted educational techniue utilized in everything from environmental protection to saying no to drugs The film version of The Lorax bore this out andave me some nice little bite sized psychological scars for years to come These days we don t usually Building Ideas: An Architectural Guide to the University of Chicago go in for the whole learning through fear techniue Even picture books that sport a message are prone to be mildly sad than anything else What makes Moletown so very interesting then is its inclination to tap into popular tropes in our own history then turn them ever soently on their heads The end result is a book where you might easily lose sight of the bigger picture until that final moment when ev. Torben Kulhmann's stunningly illustrated nearly wordless tale offers a fascinating window into an imaginary yet hauntingly familiar world under our feet.
To correct the past Yet interesting to me by far was how the book lets the reader reach their own slow realization that the seemingly inevitable trudge of technological advances and population increases are in fact detrimental That picture at the beginning of the book of the immigrants arriving in Moletown to an American reader strikes you as a symbol of freedom from oppression and hardship And because Kuhlmann keeps the book almost entirely wordless from start to finish the Canadian Art, Volume 1 (A-F): Canadian Art: Volume I (A-F) glimpses of the meadow in its downward slide towards decay are shown without commentary It s up to the reader to realize that something hasone very wrong How many will actually make that leap will be interesting to see Finding books to compare this one to can be difficult The overall feeling I Building the Cold War: Hilton International Hotels and Modern Architecture got was like the one in The Rabbits by John Marsden But where that was a story of a culture being systematically destroyed this has a sweeter if no less destructive feel The Lorax hits the same environmental notes but Moletown is the subtler of the two since it makes the reader implicit in the enjoyment one derives from Moletown s culture and from the fact that it s a world that feels very much like our own The best way to describe the story is to say that it s a combination of the two with a hopeful endnote all its own Like all imports it runs itsreatest risk in becomes a forgotten piece since it can t win many of our American children s book awards That said I have faith that teachers parents and students will find in it a new approach to tackling the tricky subject of mass consumption vs environmental action Explicit in its message Subtle in its presentation In short a beautFor ages 4 6 Disclaimer ARC via Netgalley I never really thought about moles much until I read William Horwood s Book of Silence Trilogy and his Duncton Chronicles the actual reading order should be Chronicles and then Silence I liked Wind in the Willows but I was a Ratty person if you know what I mean But after journeying with Horwood s Privet Mayweed Rooster and others I ve never looked at mole the same way Which is why when I saw this book as a read now option on Netgalley I downloaded it Kuhlmann s mole is a fable like most animal tales are on some level Perhaps it is too heavy handed I say perhaps because I found it a little heavy handed but this is a picture book with little text If I was a child I m not sure I would have the same reaction It s a simple story and a timely one about when is too much progress too much It is mostly pictures with opening and closing lines being the primary written words There are front and back pages done like newspapers pointing to the past and future of Moletown More importantly the newspaper type illustrations at the end of the book make up for the abrupt ending of the painted story The charm in the book is the illustrations Kuhlmann s illustrations are stunning and even when seen on a computer screen incredibly detailed There is reat use light as well as flashes of humor in how the moles are depicted It is the type of illustrated book that will be treasured not so much for the story but the beautiful rendering of that story I would like to thank Netgalley NorthSouth Books and the author Torben Kuhlmann for a free digital copy of this book in ex Another stunningly illustrated this time wordless picture book from rising star and 2015 Golden Island prize winner of Nami Concours Torben Kuhlmann His detail and visual storytelling sense in this and his 2014 Lindberg are a pleasure to experience This would not be the first nor the tenth book I would use to have a conversation with a child about the environment and the impact humans are having on it I wouldn t avoid it altogether but its message is so suddenly bleak and if you don t look at the inside back cover page you will miss the tiny oversimplified limmer of hope. Htful exploration into possible solutions and his delightful endpapers depict a montage of solutions that could very well save the moles' world and ours.
Erything becomes horribly clear The story of Moletown began many years ago A single solitary mole moves beneath a meadow to live Not long thereafter he s joined by other moles And over time life underground changed Before our eyes we see it We see the vast construction projects taking place to make Moletown a livable community We see the population explosion the increased technological advances and different transportation models Life becomes busier for the moles while outside in the meadow nature is taking a severe hit The reen is close to disappearing altogether but turn to the last pages in the book and there we see evidence not just of change but of the moles as a whole taking on the responsibility of their newly reen again meadowlands Kuhlmann initially burst upon the American picture book scene with the highly detailed Lindbergh a story of a mouse with a yen for flight A little bit The Arrival a little bit An American Tale and a little bit steampunk via Beatrix Potter it was his hyper realistic animals placed in extraordinary circumstances that stayed with young readers In Moletown that level of detail and attention is there but the moles have a far cartoonish feel to them This is not to say that they don t look like moles every inch of them Yet Kuhlmann has simplified his hyper realistic renderings of animals and traded that attention in for set designs and landscapes Here he plays with perspective plunging us down into the heart of the moles mining operation the scaffolding twisting around and around down and down Sharp eyed spotters will note other spreads where the stop signs are shaped like mole claws and the trains o vertically as well as horizontally The details are there to an elegant degree but the feel is different from Lindbergh certainly as is the length of the piece One of the most amazing aspects of the book is the sense of time passing In the early days of Moletown you see the immigrants arriving looking very much like the European immigrants of the late 19th century As time passes you see moles in Wright Brothers era caps trench coats and fedoras of the 40s a possible homage to the MTV image of the 80s complete with Nintendo video ame remotes and finally the iPods and wind farms of the current age Many European artists find it difficult to break into the American market due to the fact that their art contains a distinctly foreign feel Kuhlmann s advantage here is that while it is easy enough to believe that the images in this story originated in Germany there is nothing distinctly other about the book at first It s only with multiple readings that you begin to notice the elements that probably could not have begun here in the States For example in than one instance you ll see a mole smoking This is by no means the focus of the book and you would have to look somewhat hard to find such moments but I have seen American parents Charting an Empire: Geography at the English Universities 1580-1620 go ballistic over far lesser crimes in picture book illustration so I ve no doubt the occasional library patron will become incensed over what they believe to be the promotion of cigarettes Other hints that the book is German Well I could be wrong but this may well be the only picture book you ll find on the market today containing a two page spread dedicated to accountancy One interesting thing about the book is the fact that the ending that we so deeply desire is embedded not in the book itself but in its endpapers The final text in the book reads Manyenerations later the moles Chameleon Hours green meadow had completely disappeared Almost Turn the page and rather than provide a verbal explanation the bookives us a limpse of a series of photographs alongside an article from The Moletown Times which reads Agreement on Green The pictures show steps taken to preserve the environment and restore the meadow I didn t mind this method of summing up the steps taken. Where a mole suddenly recognizes the precarious balance between progress and preservation But is it too lateKulhmann's open ended text encourages thoug.
Torben Kuhlmann 1982 is a German communications designer illustrator and picture book author He studied Illustration and Communication Design at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences In 2014 he published his first book Lindbergh The adventurous story of a flying mouse the product of his graduation thesis at the college