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

October 23 – Mole Day

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About the Holiday

From 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m. on 10/23 chemists, scientists, students, and others who love numbers celebrate Mole Day to commemorate Avogadro’s Number, which is a basic weight measuring unit in chemistry. Defined by the equation 6.02 x 1023, Avogadro’s number finds that for any given molecule one mole of that substance has a weight in grams equal to its atomic number. The name of this scientific constant naturally led to an association with the furry underground burrowers, and the mole and mascot moles can be found working in tandem to promote a better understanding and enjoyment of chemistry. As today’s book proves there is no better mixture than the chemistry between friends.

A Friend for Mole

By Nancy Armo

Mole loves his cozy burrow. “He liked his soft bed of leaves, the warm smell of the earth, and the quiet darkness all around.” He can imagine the world above him by all the distinct sounds he hears. But one day those sounds become louder. Instead of gentle tapping and buzzing, he hears stomping, shouting, and laughing. He decides to go up above and see what all the ruckus is about.

“The bright light, loud noises and new smells were overwhelming,” and Mole thinks it was a very bad idea to have left his burrow. He tries to find his way home, but he can no longer see the hole. In a panic he starts to run. He trips over a tree root and rolls under a bush. The soft leaves and darkness remind Mole of his burrow and soon he is fast asleep.

Mole wakes up during the night. He hears rustling and sees two shiny eyes staring at him. “‘Oh no!’” thinks Mole. “‘Please don’t be something scary.’” Mole closes his eyes, hoping to hide. But then he hears a small whimper. “‘Are you afraid of the dark too?’” When Mole takes a peek, he sees a wolf. “‘No,’” Mole answers. “‘I’m afraid of the light.’” Wolf tells Mole that he is lost after being chased by the other animals and that he is scared.

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Copyright Nancy Armo, courtesy of Peachtree Publshers

Mole and Wolf think about what they can do and devise a clever plan. Mole says he will stay with Wolf in the dark, and Wolf agrees to help Mole find his burrow when the sun comes up. To make the time go faster, Mole and Wolf play games, such as hunting “imaginary slithering creatures,” stomping on “pretend scampering bugs,” and “chasing away scary monsters. It was all so much fun they forgot about being lost and scared.”

As daylight breaks, Mole begins to think about home. Wolf also feels homesick. As they search for the entrance to Mole’s burrow, Wolf shields Mole’s eyes from the sun with his tail, and Mole giggles at the tickly softness of Wolf’s fur. Soon they discover Mole’s burrow, and Wolf realizes that he lives nearby. Although Mole is happy to be home, he also feels sad to say goodbye to Wolf.

He asks if Wolf would like to play again sometime. Wolf shouts, “Yes! That was so much fun! I was scared but having you there made everything okay.” As Mole settles back into his leafy bed, he knows “exactly what Wolf meant.”

In her sweet story of friendship found, Nancy Armo relates that most comforting feeling—the knowledge that friends always stand by you even when times are hard or scary. Her characters Mole and Wolf are perfectly chosen foils with opposite strengths that, combined, help solve their immediate problem and form a strong friendship. Armo’s straightforward storytelling is enriched by the endearing personalities of Mole and Wolf as well as their honest sharing of feelings.

In vivid two-page spreads Armo superbly depicts the daytime and nighttime scenes, transporting readers into the heart of her story. Above the “quiet darkness” of Mole’s burrow, cute mice scamper in the rain while an earthworm, a snail, and a bee take shelter. When his roof rings with noise and curiosity gets the better of Mole, he emerges into an open field, and his tumbling trip over the tree root is nimbly portrayed with a series of flips rendered with a filmy transparency. As nightime falls the Mole’s and Wolf’s adventure plays out on pages with a solid black background. Wolf’s eyes shining on a completely darkened page offers just the right amount of suspense for little readers, and a careful look at the expression in his eyes is reassuring. Kids will enjoy the games the two friends enjoy, and will cheer when the sun dawns on their new friendship.

A Friend for Mole is a great book for young readers navigating the world of meeting new classmates, teammates, and other children who may see the world differently but would make good friends.

Ages 3 – 7

Peachtree Publishers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1561458653

You’ll find fun A Friend for Mole activity sheets, a portfolio of artwork, and more on Nancy Armo’s website!

Mole Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mole-mazeMole Tunnels Maze

Dig into this printable Mole Tunnels Maze that has as many twists and turns as a mole’s home!

Picture Book Review