Monday, April 11, 2016

MMGM: Lilliput

This is another delightful surprise I found at my library recently. I was drawn in immediately by the sort of steam-punkish cover (it’s not really a steam punk novel) and the fact that it’s a reimagining of a classic, Gulliver Travels.

For the record, I must admit that I’ve never actually finished Gulliver’s Travels. I tried, I really tried, but after the delightful part about Lilliputians, the rest was pretty slow going.

But never fear, Sam Gayton has taken the most interesting part of Gulliver, and shall I say, made it even more interesting.

Here’s the synopsis (from the back flap):

She is a girl three inches tall with eyes like drops of dew. Her clothes are cut from handkerchiefs and stitched with spider silk. For half her life, she has been trapped in a birdcage while her giant kidnapper sits below her, writing in a leather-bound book. Her name is Lily, and tonight she is escaping. She is going home. To Lilliput.

Inspired by
Gulliver’s Travels, Lilliput is an exhilarating adventure filled with cruel contraptions, cunning escape plans, and an evil clock maker who will stop at nothing to capture Lily and her friends. Join Lily as she travels through eighteenth century London—over rooftops, down chimneys, and into chocolate shops—on a journey to find the one place she belongs…home.

What to love about Lilliput:

1.    A delightful main character: Lily’s desire to get home, her difficulties to forgive, her desire to escape at all costs really rang true for me. I also loved how she often spoke Lilliputian, and how she was the perfect contrast of fragile (due to her inexperience and size) and fiercely brave.

2.    World building and setting: I liked the splash of magic in this book, otherwise set in real historical London: the clock maker who could make clocks speed forward or slow down (for nefarious reasons), Lily’s ability to read minds and sense feelings, her extraordinary sense of smell. All this contributed to the whimsical mood of the story.

3.    Larger than life characters. In addition to Lily and Finn, who rescues her, I was particularly drawn to Mr. Ozinda, a chocolate maker who speaks in rhymes, and his talking parrot, Mr. Senor Chitchat.

4.    Lyrical language. This book has an old-fashioned feel, not just in the storytelling, but the illustrations and the language. The simple, yet apt descriptions and metaphors really fit a child’s way of thinking. Like Lily’s description of her first taste of hot chocolate: “It was like swallowing happiness.” And hands down, it is one of the most sensory-rich stories I’ve read recently.

5.    A retelling of a classic.  There’s something about reading a retelling of a classic. I love getting to experience favorite characters and situations in new ways—and in this case, seeing a Gulliver in a completely different light.

Parent/Teacher warning:

There is some violence in this story and one character dies, so this might not be the best book for young and/or sensitive readers.

(This post has an Amazon affiliate link.) 

Have you read a retelling of classic literature that you enjoyed?

To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog. 


  1. I love retellings. This sounds like a good one. I really like the London setting.

  2. I really like the plot. The reasons you gave for why you liked Lilliput really sparked my interest. Thanks for reviewing!
    - Vi Tiger

  3. I hadn't heard of this book. It almost sounds like it could be steam punk, with the time period and the unusual clocks. Love the parrot's name.

  4. Interesting story line. I'm not much into Gulliver's Travels either but will give this one a try. Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. This one sounds like so much fun! Must put on my to-read list...

  6. I do love books about little people—The Borrowers, Pratchett's Bromeliad trilogy—and you sold me on this one with the line about hot chocolate!

  7. How intriguing! I remember reading Gulliver's Travels and concluding that some parts were interesting and others boring, but can't sort out which was which in my mind. I suspect you have the right of it. :)
    Thanks for recommending this lovely book, and happy MMGM!

  8. Mr. Senor Chitchat. Now that's a great name for a parrot.

  9. I remember trying to read Gulliver's Travels before. I don't think I got far. Heh. This book, though, sounds like a good read. :)

  10. I don't think I've ever read Gulliver's Travels. Thanks for the book recommendation—sounds like a great story! :)