The blurb of the US edition of this book says that ‘… while talking on the phone to a friend, Anne Wouters drew a little bear in a box on a scrap of paper’. And this is the bear that becomes the basis of the character featured in both this book and its companion title This Book Is Too Small.
The story is simple. As night and a deep blue creep over the world and the page, Little Mole and Bear become increasingly frightened. They try their best to blow or push away the encroaching nighttime, but still it keeps on coming. Luckily though, through a clever feat of ingenuity, they find a way to reintroduce some light into their world and eventually overcome their fears.
When we first see Little Mole cuddled up in Bear’s arms the relationship appears initially to be one of parent and child. But as the story progresses we realise that the two are actually friends, and that being bigger in size doesn’t necessarily mean you are any older, wiser or braver. The emphasis is on cooperation as a means to solve your problems.
One of the features of this book is the way it undermines our sense of what is real. As rational beings we know that it is impossible to push darkness away, and that the sky is not solid, or even within our reach – yet we accept that this is the case for Bear and Little Mole. It is a playful metafictive device that is reinforced by the cover, on which we see the pair apparently pushing away the type on the layout. True, Bear and Little Mole are characters in this story, but they are also part of the physical book itself. They are the ‘Us’ of the title.