Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Minpins

The Minpins

Roald Dahl
Illustrator:  Patrick Benson 
For ages 5 to 8
Penguin, 1994   ISBN: 978-0140549706

Little Billy is bored stiff. His mother won't let him do anything even vaguely interesting or exciting. Not far from their house there is a wonderful looking wood which Little Billy wishes he could explore, but his mother insists that he must never, ever go into the forest for there are terrible creatures among the trees, creatures which will certainly eat him given half a chance. She warns him that "None come out, but many go in!"

Of course Little Billy thinks his mother is making up the whole business about monsters, and as soon as he gets a chance he slips out of the window and into the wood. It isn't long before Little Billy discovers that his mother is not wrong, there is at least one ferocious beast in the wood and in no time at all it begins to pursue the little boy breathing fire and making a terrible racket. As a last resort Little Billy climbs a tree to get away from the creature - for a while at least he is safe. Up in the tree Little Billy discovers the most amazing thing; there is a whole race of little people living up there. In fact they live in all the trees in the woods. They are the Minpins and just like Little Billy, they have to stay up off the ground because of the beast. Will Billy have to spend the rest of his life in a tree just like the Minpins or is there some way for him to get rid of the beast once and for all?

This magical, lusciously illustrated picture book brings the world of reality and make-believe so close together that they start to merge and blend. Roald Dahl perfectly creates a world of tiny people who befriend and help a little boy who needs to go home and who, at the same time, loves to explore the wide world beyond his garden gate. Children longing for adventure will relish this tale which is perfectly balanced with all the right elements of an adventure story; there are monsters, animals that understand human speech, and a secret that must never be shared with anyone - except the reader of course.