Am Anfang lebt ein einzelner Maulwurf tief unter einer grünen Wiese. Dort gibt es alles im Überfluss. Schon bald siedeln sich mehr und mehr Maulwürfe unter der Wiese an. Doch immer mehr Maulwürfe brauchen immer mehr Infrastruktur. Aus einfachen Wohnlöchern werden aufwändige Behausungen. Mit immer leistungsfähigeren Maschinen graben sich die Maulwürfe in die Tiefe...


Schon bald wuseln Tausende von Maulwürfen durch die Unterwelt. Dabei verschwindet immer mehr von der grünen Wiese und die Maulwurfhaufen reihen sich. Am Ende gibt es fast nur noch eine graubraune Einöde - überschattet von den Fördertürmen, Schornsteinen und Strommasten der Maulwurfstadt. Erst im letzten Moment erkennen die Maulwürfe, dass ihre Wiese durchaus schützenswert wäre.



Durchgehend farbig illustriert

€ D 14,99 / € A 15,50 / CHF 21.90

Hardcover / 32 Seiten / ab 5 Jahren

Erscheint: 20. Januar 2015

NordSüd Verlag AG

ISBN: 978-3-314-10274-5



Eines der 7 besten Bücher für junge Leser im Deutschlandfunk


„Bilder zum Nachdenken, wunderschön anzuschauen

und ohne viele Worte. Da bleibt Platz für Fantasie!"


Lien Kaspari, BILD-Zeitung Hamburg

"Ein bisschen Shabby Chic und ein bisschen Steampunk

- die Zukunft von gestern für die Buchkinder von heute."

DIE WELT - Literarische Welt

"Witzig, liebevoll und fantastisch in Szene gesetzt"


Dr. Matthias Gretzschel, HAMBURGER ABENDBLATT

"Torben Kuhlmann, der mit seinem Erstlingswerk "Lindbergh - Die abenteuerliche Geschichte einer fliegenden Maus" große Bekanntheit erlangte, legt mit seinem neuen Werk „Maulwurfstadt“ ein ebenso beeindruckendes Bilderbuch vor."


Bücherstadt Kurier

"Diesem Bilderbuch für alle Altersgruppen gelingt erneut, was bei „Lindbergh“ begonnen hat. Eine Idee greift, Gedanken setzen sich fest und man schaut ein wenig verblüfft aus dem eigenen Maulwurfshügel auf die eigene Welt."


Arndt Stroscher, AstroLibrium

"Das hochaktuelle Thema wird klug und reflektiert aufgegriffen, in einen überbordenden Fundus an (Bild-)Zitaten eingebettet und zeigt, wie komplex und tiefgründig ein Bilderbuch erzählen kann."


Anna Stemmann, Footnoters

"Torben Kuhlmann ist mit “Maulwurfstadt” ein zweites Meisterwerk gelungen, ohne Frage! Die zauberhaften Illustrationen laden ein zum staunen, verweilen und vor allem zum Nachdenken."


Ruby's Cinnamon Dreams

Ein kleiner Einblick in das »Maulwurfstadt« Skizzenbuch

Vor jedem neuen Bilderbuch steht eine lange und manchmal auch schwierige Entwurfsphase. Wie werden aus Ideen fertige Bilder? Bei der Geschichte der unterirdischen Maulwurfstadt flogen mir die Bildideen geradezu zu. Echte Städte und Orte standen Pate für diese unbekannte Welt, von Manchester während der Industriellen Revolution über New York bis zu den Ölfeldern Aserbaidschans oder dem Ruhrpott mit seinen Zechen. Hier ein paar Beispiele aus dem Skizzenbuch.

Interview "About Moletown" (English)

Q: When did you start to think about a follow-up to Lindbergh? Did you already have some ideas in mind before it was published or did it only come to you later?


TK: The idea of a story starring moles is in fact an older one. It started as a play on words: “Overpopulation - Underground”. I came up with a concrete idea shortly after Lindbergh was finished. I made some sketches during the summer of 2013 and painted two and a half final illustrations. At first it was just supposed to be a series of five illustrations for festivals and competitions like the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition. But then, there was simply not enough time next to the Lindbergh preparations and my daily job. But, inspired by the first illustrations – for example the “Tiny Mole Apartments” - soon a concept for a whole book developed. And finally this summer I had one of the most precious goods: Time!


Q: Of all the animals you could have picked, why moles?


TK: It seemed a natural fit for me to pick moles for this story. Moles are animals, which undoubtedly change their environment. They mark their growing presence by an increasing number of mole hills on a green meadow. And you can easily imagine, what would happen if they have technology at hand. What a perfect starting point for a parable about our world, our society and our treatment of the environment. And moles as subterranean mine workers are almost a cliché of sorts. And I was tempted to push this image to a new extreme.


Q: When I first saw the illustrations for “Mole Town” I was reminded of some classic Sci-Fi films like Metropolis, Brazil or Blade Runner. Did you have those in mind when you started work on this project?


TK: I am happy that you mention this connection. I would say that one of my greatest influences is the language of cinema. And I grew up as a Science Fiction Fan. Especially films of the eighties caught my attention and fuelled my imagination. Dystopian futures are a common theme in many Sci-Fi classics and there are a few similarities between my book and these films. The future of “Mole Town” might look like a subterranean version of the world depicted in “Blade Runner”. The cover even pays a little tribute to the Charlie Chaplin classic “Modern Times”, where a man is caught between the teeth of gearwheels. There is similar imagery in “Metropolis” as well. A first draft of “Moletown” even went a little further into the future – with a little more “High Tech” – but the message of the book is stronger in this actual form. Another connection is my love for the old cinematic trick of “matte paintings”. To portrait strange environments and perspectives in films, which were too expansive or impossible to build, these things had to be hand-painted. Blade Runner, Star Wars and even Metropolis are filled with hand-painted landscapes. Today, CGI had replaced this technique completely. But some of my earliest oil paintings are little attempts to mimic these “matte paintings” and now some illustrations in “Mole Town” pay tribute to those painted sceneries, which inspired me as a kid.


Q:This book is quite dark, both literally and metaphorically. Yet the ending leaves room for optimism. Was it important for you to give a message of hope?


TK: Yes, of course. Literally it is dark, because it’s set underground. On a storytelling level it is a mixture of some genres. A farce, a metaphor… dark, but humorous. It was my intention not to have a dark or mean ending, but I didn’t want an explicit “Happy Ending” either. The future of Mole Town is left open to the imagination of the reader. It is only alluded to in the pictures and I am happy that there is no written moral in a nutshell at the end. The story is the stronger, the more the reader is allowed to interpret its message himself.


Q: You recently told me that the success of Lindbergh has allowed you to devote more time to illustrating and writing. How has that impacted on the way you work?


TK: Yes, the success of Lindbergh allowed me to venture more into the book market and freelance illustration. Until this summer, there was only a small niche for writing and illustrating children’s books in my life. For example, most of the work on “Lindbergh” was done in long hours after work, on weekends and during vacations. Now, it was a relief to focus on a project for weeks without interruptions. Now, I have a more fluent working pace, I can dive more into my own imagination and concentrate on one project at a time. And this was necessary, because there was a tough deadline for “Moletown”.


Q: This picture book has a more standard 32 pages, was it a challenge for you to get all your ideas into this format?


TK: At first, each and every book project is a little bit frightening. There are so many empty pages that must be filled. Even if you have a number of ideas, the white empty paper is a bit daunting. But I had a concept for 32 pages right from the get-go. During my work on the 32 pages, a lot of new ideas arouse and it was quite challenging to get them all into the book. Luckily, there are the book-end-papers, which I used to integrate almost all additional ideas. It’s now a substantial addendum. But I’m afraid, that my next book will be a longer one again…


Q: My favourite image in the book is the Times Square-like cityscape, teeming with moles, cars and trams. It looks to me like you had a lot of fun creating it?


TK: Thank you, this is one of my personal favourites as well. I had a lot of fun creating all the illustration, but especially the later ones – teaming with moles, little jokes, references and details. It was fun playing a designer for mole cars – which are mostly tricycles and have “molelesque” silhouettes. And after many years working in an advertising agency, it was a special joy to spoof all this ad-madness and designing many mole and soil related brands – from the fashion label “smutch” to “Enjoy Braune Brause”. It is fun filling such a scene with so many details. This scene also hints to the aforementioned Sci-Fi films and my own fascination for places like the New York Times Square, the Piccadilly Circus in London or even the Reeperbahn in Hamburg… Fascinating and a little mad at the same time.

Q:And some of the big machines too.

TK: Yes! The mole technology started very purposive, just like human inventions. But I exaggerated them more and more – from mattock and shovel to drilling steam engines, many stories tall… It was fun being the inventor and engineer of these digging contraptions. Also, these machines are a throwback to my earliest drawings, when I was a kindergartener. These drawings were side-face depictions of machines, to which I added more and more crazy details. Sometimes I tried to build this machines full scale in the backyard of my parent’s house. This “inventive” part of my younger self was also the inspiration for the little mouse in “Lindbergh”.


Q: I know you were somewhat surprised by the international success of “Lindbergh”, if anything this book has even more universal appeal. Was that a conscious choice?


TK: Yes and no. “Lindbergh” started as a very personal project – I had no marketing plan or target audience in mind. It was just my diploma and I wanted to satisfy myself – and of course my professors -with my first picture book. I wasn’t sure that this “old-fashioned” and long book would ever find a publisher. It was meant to be a bit darker, a bit more serious, a bit more adventurous. I’m very happy, that my design choices resulted in a book which appeals to so many people – young and old. And I think “Mole Town” started with the same preconditions. Again, there was no real target audience in my mind. I tried to elevate much of the narrative in “Lindbergh” into the imagery, having the little text more as a guideline. “Moletown” goes even a step further. The book is an almost wordless metaphor and I hope everybody will recognize parts of our daily life and our behaviour in this subterranean tale of a city. So, to answer the question: There was a conscious choice to tell this story this way, but not to have a wide appeal at all costs, but because it is the best way to tell this story and involve the reader in the process!


Thanks to Andrew Rushton for this Interview