Still on our Roald Dahl kick, we picked up The Minpins. It is a shorter picture book, but it took us two nights to read, because it is thick on the prose.
The Story: Little Billy longed to explore the woods near his house, but his mother told him all sorts of creatures lurk in the forest just waiting to gobble him up. One day, when his mother wasn't looking, he snuck off into the forest... and discovered that his mother was right! He fled from an evil fire-snorting beast, and ended up high in a tree, where he met the most interesting creatures of all - tiny people called the Minpins. With heads no bigger than peas, they inhabit the trees of the forest and are transported on birds. They are also kept from the forest floor by the evil fire-snorting beast, which devours them by the thousands. Little Billy hatches a plan, though, to allow him to return home, and will allow the Minpins to travel the forest freely. It is a brave plan - but will it work?
The Good: Little Billy is brave, and the minpins are kind and open. The prose is beautiful, and the illustrations are stunning. The book makes kids want to pay attention to nature - because who knows? They might just see a minpin riding on a passing robin. Very sweet. It was short enough that it didn't take long to read. Evalina loved it.
The Bad: The Gruncher (the evil beast) is truly terrifying. It's an unseen cloud of snorting, fire-breathing horror. Though Little Billy defeats it in the end, there are some scary parts. The whole story stems from Little Billy disobeying his mother's explicit wishes, and I don't know that I like that part of it, since I have kids that don't always listen so well...
The Verdict: A delightful read. Amazon recommends it from ages 3-8, and I'd say that's about right. I didn't read it to Philip when I was reading it to Evalina (he was off reading with Daddy), but I bet he would have liked it. It is different from other Roald Dahl books we've read so far, but that is not a bad thing. The humor that is so evident in the longer books is replaced by pure fantasy in The Minpins. It made me want to take a closer look at passing birds.