Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tiny People

The Borrowers: illustration by Beth and Joe Krush
   My current preoccupation is with books about tiny people. I'm remembering books I have read in the past, researching which books I should read next, and fantasising about being tiny myself. Depending on just how tiny I was, I think I'd like to live under the floorboards of a nice house - much as the Borrowers did. We were having this conversation in work at the weekend, and a colleague said that she'd like to live in a doll's house, especially since so much lovely doll's house furniture is available these days. For myself, I have always found most of the attraction of the Tiny People story to be in the use of 'borrowed' objects as household items - note the clothes pins being used as clothes line in the illustration from 'The Borrowers' by Mary Norton. In 'The Rescuers' by Margery Sharp, I seem to remember Bernard using an old matchbox as his bed - and very cosy it looked, too!
Brambly Hedge: illustration by Jill Barklem
    Roald Dahl's 'The Minpins' is another classic, and I particularly loved the idea of tiny people inhabiting a tree as a town. Jill Barklem used this idea in her lovely Brambly Hedge series, in which a colony of mice live inside various hedgerow trees. When I used to read these to my young sister, I enjoyed them as much as she did, and especially the beautiful cutaway illustrations showing the tree dwellings of the rustic mice. One of the books that has emerged as the frontrunner of my To Be Read in the 'Books About Tiny People' category is Timothee de Fombelle's 'Toby Alone'. This shares the tree setting of 'The Minpins', promising an ecological allegory as well as a coming-of-age adventure for the young hero.  
   In the course of my research, I've also discovered that the current deplorable fact that I've never read Terry Pratchett will have to be remedied in the course of my catch-up of books about Tiny People. His first ever book, 'The Carpet People', tells the story of the Munrungs, tiny people living deep inside a carpet. The Bromeliad trilogy ('Truckers', 'Diggers', and 'Wings') tells the story of the Nomes, a race of - you guessed it - tiny people. These ones are from another world and now live hidden among humans. 
   For my birthday, could you please get me a Time-Turner so that I have a few more hours to read all of these?

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