October 23 – Mole Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday has a very strict time structure. From 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m. we celebrate Avogadro’s Number (6.02 x  10 to the 23rd), a basic measuring unit in chemistry. This measurement states that for a given molecule one mole is a mass (measured in grams) that is equal to the molar mass of the molecule. Take the water molecule: since its molar mass is 18, one mole of water weighs 18 grams. How many molecules are in that mole? Ah! This is where Avogadro’s Number comes in. One mole of any substance contains Avogadro’s Number of molecules. The association of the chemistry mole and the animal mole came about as a fun way to get kids interested in this area of discovery.  For more information on Mole Day and this year’s theme: MOLEvengers visit Moleday.orgMoleday.org. Today’s book also surprises with a little mole making her own discoveries.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole

Written by Jane Yolen | Illustrated by Kathryn Brown

 

Down at the bottom of a deep hole in the ground, three sisters—Eeny, Meeny, and Miney Mole kept house. “In that hole, dark was light, day was night, and summer and winter seemed the same.” Sometimes the sisters went to bed during the day and got up at sunset, or they played all day and night and never slept at all. Even the seasons seemed the same down in their cozy home. Eeny, the youngest sister, liked to explore, burrowing here and there away from their house. Once, “she met a worm who told her the most astonishing thing.”

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Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

Eeny hurried back to tell her sisters what she had learned about the “Up Above—which is what they called the world on top of the ground.” The worm had told her that up there “‘things are both dark and light.” Meeny didn’t believe it. Miney laughed it off. And both told Eeny that worms were unreliable. They went to bed early and covered up their heads “because they didn’t want to even think about light.”

But Eeny did want to think about it. She wondered about light’s size and shape. She thought about whether light “spread from corner to corner Up Above like a blanket or if it just touched in and out like the thread in the hem of a dress. She thought about light all that night until her sisters woke up. Another day, Eeny burrowed to the right of her home and met a centipede who told her another astonishing thing.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-eeny-meeny-miney-mole-astonishing-thing

Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

When Meeny and Miney heard that Up Above had both day and night, they told Eeny that centipedes were just “addlepated” and to pay no attention. Then they went off to have dinner and “dipped their noses into their soup bowls and snuffled up tubers so they didn’t have to think about day.” But Eeny wasn’t hungry. Instead, she wondered about day’s length and sound and whether it was “sharp like hunger or soft like sleep.”

One day Eeny burrowed underneath her hole and came upon a snake, who served her tea and related “the most astonishing thing.” Meeny and Miney were aghast to hear that Up Above there was both winter and summer and told Eeny never to talk to snakes. But while Meeny and Miney went off to play checkers, Eeny thought and thought about whether summer and winter were “low or high…young or old.” She wondered if they were damp or dry, clumpy or crumbly.

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Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

The next time Eeny went exploring, she decided to find out about the Up Above for herself. When she got there she discovered that all of her thoughts had been right in some way. Light was like a blanket, but it was also like the hem of a dress. While the sun was sharp, shadows were soft. There was moisture in the air that was “sometimes warm and sometimes cold.” All around her Eeny heard the “murmur…of bees and trees, of showers and flowers, of tadpoles and tidepools and crinkly grass”—the sounds of Spring. Eeny was happy to have visited the Up Above and promised herself that she would go back someday to meet Summer and Winter. But for now, as she carried a bright yellow flower back home, she couldn’t wait to tell Meeny and Miney about Sprng.

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Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

Jane Yolen’s stirring story of opening oneself to new possibilities, people, and experiences is gentle and sweet and full of wonder. As Eeny ponders the astonishing things she hears, her sisters prefer to remain in the dark, offering their advice in shocked expressions and reverting to diversions that little ones will find humorous. Yolan’s tale is rich in words that are wonderful to hear and read. The sisters snuffle up tubers, the centipede is addlepated, seasons are clumpy and crumbly, and grass is crinkly. The repeated words, astonishing, complicated, burrowing are lyrical and invite imaginative thinking. And, of course, Yolen’s metaphors are precise and novel. The moving ending is uplifting in its reassurance of the family unit while still promising an astonishing future.

The beauty and detail of Kathryn Brown’s watercolor illustrations are awe-inspiring and create a luxuriant underground world where a pink-wrapped and -capped worm reads by following the words with the tip of his tail while a green-coated cricket turns pages; a colorfully socked centipede watches the outside world through a daffodil bulb periscope hanging like a chandelier in her den; a snake wears a seashell cap and smokes a pipe near his crackling fireplace; and the Up Above is sunny and breezy, expansive and inviting. Tiny Eeny is adorably thoughtful as she wanders through the tunnels of her cozy hole and reports her findings to her older sisters. Readers may notice that Eeny carries with her a lantern that lights her way even as she becomes enlightened and will be delighted with Eeny’s favorite toy—an acorn carriage and itty-bitty doll.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole is sweetly superb and perfect to snuggle up with for quiet story times. Look for this classic story in your local library or used bookstore.

Ages 3 and up

Harcourt Children’s Books, 1992 | ISBN 978-0152253509

There is so much to discover about Jane Yolen and her books on her website.

View a portfolio of books and illustration work by Kathryn Brown on her website.

Mole Day Activity

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Mole Tunnels Maze

 

Can you find your way through the underground pathways to visit Mole in this printable Mole Tunnel Maze?

Picture Book Review

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