The Little Gentleman
by Philippa Pearce
Bet lives with her grandparents the Allums, and often accompanies her
grandmother when Mrs. Allum cleans house for the eccentric Mr. Franklin. One
day, after Mr. Franklin breaks his leg in a fall, he asks Bet to do him a
strange favor. She is to go out to a tree stump in the garden and read aloud from a book about
worms. Bet does as Mr. Franklin asks, and soon makes the acquaintance of a
mole. A talking, intelligent mole who has been touched by magic.
Little by little, Bet's new friend tells her his strange history. Some parts
of it are scary, some parts sad. The magic has given the "little gentleman"
an unnaturally long life and the intelligence to communicate with humans;
but it has cut him off from his true home, his true nature, and his own
kind. Bet learns that she can help her friend get home. But to do that, she
must lose him forever.
This brief tale from the author of Tom's Midnight Garden is filled with a
young girl's confusion at a time of change in her life - a turning point in
her family and in the way she views herself. The chance of happiness is
mixed with the risk of disappointment, just as the chance to show true
friendship is tinged with the fear and pain of loss. It is a touching story,
and one full of vivid scenes of nature, history, and a terrible side of
magic. I urge you to welcome Bet, her family, and her flawed but memorable
loved ones into your life. I urge you to experience this book.
Recommended Age: 10+
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