Below the cobblestone and double decker
buses, below the corkscrew spin of never-ending
staircases, below the humming tracks of every
fast-moving train, below the London you have
come to know live the mole people.
The above quote from “10 Things You Must Understand about Mole People”--the opening poem of Heather Cox’s chapbook “Mole People” (Batcat Press, 2016)--sets the stage for this wonderful treasure about a secret race living beneath London. Five of the poems concern Thomas, a World War II veteran who in 1963 finds a map of the Mole People's Under-Underground. Thomas is a sympathetic and interesting character, but it was the details about the Mole People that fascinated and delighted me.
As a child, I loved Mary Norton's stories of the Borrowers, another secret community of tiny people, but the Mole People are not imitations of the Borrowers--they are their own true selves. The following quote, also taken from “10 Things You Must Understand about Mole People”, establishes their unique place in the genre:
When London is shrouded in grey, when rain
bursts into pavements, when the wind is also
propelling the rain, one mole will be selected to
climb up wooden steps, through tunnels, up iron
ladders, through hidden holes and crevices and
passageways and in between tall brick walls, to
sneak to the surface and smell the rain, to feel the
splash and taste the wet, to tell the others.
I highly recommend this chapbook, which may be purchased in hardback with hand sewn constructed dust jacket through Batcat Press for $22.00 https://squareup.com/store/batcat-press-3/item/mole-people-by-heather-cox. And I want a sequel.