So what happens when that character is just a few inches tall?
I’ve always loved reading books that star all sorts of small creatures. I believe it all started with Thumbelina. In the third or fourth grade, I took out this same library book again and again and again. The book itself was a hardcover, miniature in size, and it told the fantastic story of a girl who was the size of my thumb. It was such an impossible, yet amazing, notion.
I never considered why I was so enchanted by this book. Was it the size? (Small books for small hands) Or was it the idea of how different life must be like for little Thumbelina? If she just so happened to be real (and really, that’s what my third-grade self wanted!) how would she view my world? If I were magically reduced to Thumbelina’s size, how would I view her world?
Fellow Inkie Ellen Booraem, whose newest book SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS, hit the nail on the head when she commented that imagining a world in this way is very much like “how artists turn the canvas upside down to check composition… Sometimes you need to skew things to see them clearly, and looking at our world through the eyes of someone very small (or very large) gives us a new perspective on it.”
Eventually my fascination with Thumbelina wore off. A few years later my delight with small creatures returned when I discovered Lynne Reid Banks book THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, in which Omri, a young boy, receives an old medicine cabinet to store his plethora of plastic toy figurines. When he locks in an Indian brave one night, he wakes to find the Indian has come to life. Little Bear has been plucked from his own world and transported to Omri’s cabinet.
The magnificent thing about this book was being able to live through both Omri’s experience with taking care of such a small human, and Little Bear’s awed wonder of this new, enormous world he’s been thrown into. What Omri saw as a small rock became a huge boulder to Little Bear. A patch of grass became a forest of strange looking trees. A mud puddle became a swamp.
It was also the fact that Omri had such an amazing secret. He had this living, breathing treasure all to himself and no one else in his house knew about it. Inkie Leah Cypess, author of MISTWOOD and the upcoming NIGHTSPELL, said she inhaled Mary Norton’s THE BORROWERS as a child, fascinated by “the idea of tiny people living just out of sight, especially when their existence is something the children figure out while the adults are kept in the dark.”
A few more Inkies weighed in with their own favorite books starring small creatures, along with the reasons why they enjoyed reading them so much:
Dawn Metcalf (LUMINOUS) said she loved “the whole idea of GNOMES by Poortvliet/Huygen or The Littles, (which probably began with fairy tales like Thumbelina and Tom Thumb or just the idea of fairies in general. Of course I also like miniatura, so anything where people were shrunk (movies, TV, books, etc.) I was all over it!”
Laura McCaffrey (WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING) also loved THE BORROWERS and GNOMES saying, “these stories fascinated me because they suggested that under the ground or in the trees or maybe even in the very walls of the house was an entirely separate world.”
Wendy Delsol (STORK) brought Hans Christian Andersen into the mix, saying, “I also still own a book (signed to me by my English grandfather in 1970) of Christian Andersen tales, one of which is THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE CHIMNEY SWEEP. It's the story of a pair of tabletop figurines who, as a test of their love, must escape two oppressors. One antagonist, the figurine of a chinese mandarine pretending to be the girl's grandfather, promises her hand in marriage to the other, the oak-chest-carved likeness of a man with goat legs, horns, and a beard.”
Ellen Booraem also suggested Elise Broach’s MASTERPIECE, where we see life through the eyes of a beetle living behind the walls of a New York apartment. And Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban (TWO MOON PRINCESS) suggested The Doll People by Ann M. Martin.
What about you, readers? What books featuring miniature creatures do you love?