Saturday, February 2, 2008

A feisty "little" girl

T.J. has recently moved to the suburbs after having spent her whole life on a farm. While she understands the move wasn’t her parents’ choice – they lost a lot of money in the stock market - she still feels desolate at having to leave her beloved horse behind. Her older brother seems to have weathered the transition well; he’s finally found some friends to play in a band with, but T.J. feels like a country bumpkin, a total outsider.

At night she’s been hearing odd sounds in the walls, a scritch, scritch sort of sound. But whenever she turns on the lights to see what’s happening, the sounds stop. Sometimes it seems she can actually hear voices, so when a little door in the wall suddenly opens one night, and a very little person steps out into her room, she’s surprised – but not too surprised.

The tiny little person is Elizabeth, T.J. discovers: a Little. (As in The Littles and The Borrowers). T.J. is sick and tired of hiding in the walls, living afraid, never going out, not knowing anyone her own age, and always having to follow her parents’ long list of rules. She is leaving home, going on an adventure, and she can take care of herself. T.J. is dressed in punkish clothes which she has fashioned for herself, and she has a very big attitude. One of the most important rules is to always hide their existence from big people, and Elizabeth appears pleased to have broken it so successfully.

The novel is told in alternating viewpoints, first from T.J.’s, then from Elizabeth’s point of view. When Elizabeth’s adventure doesn’t go very well and T.J. discovers her living in the garden shed, cold, alone and afraid (not that she’d admit it), the girls team up to find out how Elizabeth can find other Littles – she can’t go back home, because her parents left in a fright after Elizabeth spoke about them to T.J. Their search turns into an adventure that takes both friends far from home, way out of their comfort zones, and teaches them more about the world – and themselves – than they ever imagined possible.

I always enjoy Charles de Lint’s books, and this one is no exception. It does lack the narrative complexity and dramatic intensity of some of my favorites (such as The Blue Girl and The Dreaming Place, two other books for teen readers). That may be because the novel is based on a short story, which appeared in an anthology called Firebirds Rising (edited by Sharyn November). Even so, I find anything Charles de Lint writes is worth reading - I love that feeling I get from his books that the world is a magical place, if we open our eyes and really look at things. My library places this book in the YA section, but I’d say that even younger readers would enjoy it – ten or eleven and up – because of the very tight focus on the characters and straightforward narrative.

Little (Grrl) LOST by Charles de Lint (Viking, 2007)
Other Books & Other Thoughts reviews of Charles de Lint's books:

Other blog reviews:


  1. Its sounds like a very imaginative book!

  2. i couldn't get into blue girl. i think it failed my 4 chapter test. but this one sounds interesting. maybe i'll give this a try.

  3. Ladytink - de Lint's book are hugely imaginative - that's why I love them so much!

    Molly - wow, that's surprising to me that you couldn't get into The Blue Girl - it really grabbed me from the start. You might also try some of his short stories (I know, I'm not a huge short story fan normally, but I really love his!).

  4. Your description has made me want to get my hands on the book right away. I've practically given up recreational reading lately... but thanks to you i'm going to make time for it.

    Keep educating!

  5. Hi, Veena - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to hear you're coming back to some fun reading. I hope you enjoy this one!

  6. I have Widdershins sitting on the shelves. That will be my first de Lint book is I ever get around to it. This one sounds like a fun read as well.

  7. I am trying not to read too much of your review as I have a long wait until the paperback comes out for me to read! I hope to read The Onion Girl this year and possibly Yarrow and whatever else I have time for along with some short stories of his. I sounds like you enjoyed this despite not being as good as some of your other favourites, I can't wait to read it.

  8. Framed - I loved Widdershins. But it is the sequel to Onion Girl, so you might want to read that (or other earlier Newford books) first. I think you'll get more out of the book that way (although I am admittedly a stickler for reading things in order). Just a thought!

    Rhinoa - Ooh, I just hate having to wait for things to come out in paperback! I know you will enjoy it when you get to it, though.

  9. This really is an author I can see myself loving. Thanks for yet another wonderful review!

  10. My pleasure, Nymeth - I know you will enjoy these books!


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