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The Minpins


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About the Author

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. He spent his childhood in England and, at age eighteen, went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa. When World War II broke out, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. At the age of twenty-six he moved to Washington, D.C., and it was there he began to write. His first short story, which recounted his adventures in the war, was bought by The Saturday Evening Post, and so began a long and illustrious career.

After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Roald Dahl began writing children's stories in 1960 while living in England with his family. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated. Roald Dahl is now considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans. Learn more about Roald Dahl on the official Roald Dahl Web site:


K-Gr 2-- Little Billy, bored with being good, ignores his mother's admonition to stay out of The Forest of Sin where ``none come out, but many go in.'' He succumbs to the Devil's invitation to explore the forest for himself. All is well until the boy hears the alarming sounds of a fire-breathing monster headed right for him. Luckily he discovers a tree of convenient size where, on climbing to its upper branches, he finds a whole village of miniature people. The Minpins are also afraid of being gobbled up by the Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher. The lad devises a plan to do away with the terrifying beast and is promised nightly flights on the back of a swan by the grateful Minpins. No longer confined to his dull home, Little Billy now discovers a world of wonders. The only adult mentioned is the boy's insensitive, doltish mother, while the protagonist himself is admirable and enterprising, true to the author's form. Nonetheless, one senses something of a kinder, gentler Dahl, who nudges his readers to become observers, for ``the greatest secrets are always hidden in unlikely places.'' However, the religious overtones seem curiously out of place. Little Billy's name, too, may prove a bit precious for some readers. Benson's pen-and-ink crosshatched drawings with full-color washes are pleasing but not memorable, with the exception of the dramatic depictions of Billy and the swan. Although older readers will find the talepretty tame, the story-hour crowd may find it a pleasant diversion. --Phyllis G. Si dorsky, National Cathedral School, Washington, DC

An endearing story. -Sunday Times

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