Glenys Nellist is the author of several picture books, including Little Mole Finds Hope and her latest, Little Mole’s Christmas Gift. We asked Glenys to share with us her thoughts on her new Christmas book about everyone’s favorite little rodent.
We first met Little Mole in February 2020, when Little Mole Finds Hope was released. How did you develop his character in this new title?
In Little Mole Finds Hope, everyone’s favorite rodent is introduced as a shy, quiet character, who is feeling sad but doesn’t know why. In this new title, Little Mole is in a much happier place, and is found taking the initiative as he discovers the perfect Christmas gift for Mama—it’s a massive mushroom standing at the edge of the forest. Unfortunately, just as Little Mole is in the process of dragging it back to his burrow, he encounters several woodland friends who are in need. Our little character has a big decision to make—should he keep the mushroom for Mama or share it with others? This story was an opportunity for Little Mole to shine and to demonstrate his compassionate, generous nature.
This is not the first Christmas book you’ve authored. What makes this title different?
All my previous Christmas books, whether written in prose or rhyme, are retellings of Jesus’ birth, and although I love to find new ways to tell the old, old story, it was so exciting for me to actually pen a story from my own imagination and to be able to write for a different audience. Since this story is one of kindness and generosity, and has no religious references, I’m hoping that it will have a much broader appeal and will resonate with many readers, whether persons of faith or not.
What was your first reaction when you saw the illustrations by Sally Garland?
Well, since Sally had illustrated Little Mole Finds Hope so beautifully and captured Little Mole so well, I knew they would be wonderful. I wasn’t disappointed! With her whimsical, somewhat vintage style, Sally has a knack of bringing Little Mole and his woodland friends to life. And I LOVE the way she depicted Little Mole in his Christmas pajamas at the end of the book! In fact, I’m dressing my Little Mole puppet in those exact same pajamas for my book launch party (and I might wear some too . . . if I’m feeling brave!)
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced releasing a new book during 2020, a year that has been so strange for all of us?
Well, it certainly has been a challenge! However, like so many other people, I’ve had to think outside the box and push to find new, creative ways to reach my readers. In fact, the advent of COVID-19 has meant that I’m actually able to read Little Mole’s Christmas Gift to a wider audience. For example, I’m able to visit so many more schools by offering virtual author visits, and my book launch party, broadcast over Facebook Live, will reach so many more families than it would if I were offering the event in person. You just have to find the silver linings in all of this and do your best!
What are you hoping that readers will take away from this story?
The original title of this book was Little Mole’s Little Gift and although it was absolutely the right decision to change the title to include the word Christmas, I think there’s something powerful in the notion that sometimes, the greatest gifts are those that are small. I remember several years ago when my daughter was a church custodian. It was Mother’s Day, and she couldn’t afford to buy me a gift. So instead, she sat in the sanctuary after everyone else had gone home and sang my favorite hymn as she thought about me. I’ve never forgotten that gift. It meant the world to me. In Little Mole’s Christmas Gift, Little Mole discovers that his kindness is the best, most wonderful gift his mama could ever receive—just like my daughter’s little gift was precious to me.
Click here to learn more about Little Mole's Christmas Gift.