08 February 2017

First published in 1991 as The Minpins (and originally illustrated by Patrick Benson in a beautiful picture-book format), it tells the story of a heroic boy called Billy who meets tiny tree-dwelling people called the Minpins, who live in fear of being gobbled up by a fearsome monster.

Can’t wait for September? Here are five things we just can’t wait to see, and a sneak peek of the first illustration shared by Quentin Blake.

1. The Minpins

The Minpins’ children are no bigger than teensy matchsticks. They wear little suction boots, like tiny green wellies, so they can walk up and down the tree branches (of course!). Their clothes are from hundreds of years ago and they sport very peculiar hats and bonnets. If you ever meet a Minpin, you must be very cautious – talk very softly, otherwise, you might blow them away!

2. The Forest of Sin 

The forest in the Minpins was inspired by Dahl’s love of the countryside: ‘Here and there little shafts of sunlight shone through gaps in the roof. There was not a sound anywhere. It was like being among the dead men in an enormous empty green cathedral.’ Billy’s mother tries to deter him from entering the dark, spooky forest beyond the gate by reciting a poem that’s well known in his district:

‘Beware! Beware! The Forest of Sin!

None come out, but many go in!’99

boy hiding in tree

3. The Minpins’ houses

All the trees in the forest are hollow and inside them live the Minpins, thousands of them. When Billy looks through a hole in the tree – which is no bigger than the size of a postage stamp – he sees a tiny but beautifully furnished room, with a four-poster bed, quite like the one Billy had once seen in the Queen’s Dolls’ House in Windsor Castle. 

4. The Gruncher

Billy’s mum warns that the Forest of Sin is filled with all kinds of beasts. You may have encountered some of these before, like Vernicious Knids and Hornswogglers in Charlie’s adventures in the Chocolate Factory and Great Glass Elevator, but worst of all in Billy and the Minpins is the Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler (try saying that with a mouthful of everlasting gobstoppers . . .). It turns out that Billy’s mum is not quite right. There is a monster in the forest, but it’s not a Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler. Billy is quickly chased down by the fearsome Gruncher – the Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher! He adores eating humans, and the fire in his belly is so hot it roasts his meat on the way down. Like Charlie, Matilda, Sophie and George – it’s up to fearless Billy to come up with a plan to save the day.

5. And of course the magic . . .

Billy and the Minpins ends with one of Roald Dahl’s most famous quotes, so that’s where we will end too:

‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ 

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