Lilliput by Sam Gayton, Illustrated by Alice Ratterree. Peachtree, 2015. 252 pages
Bottom Line: Lilliput is an entertaining (alternative) window into Gulliver’s Travels, but may be too violent for sensitive readers.
Lily’s world turned upside-down when the giant waded out of the sea and snatched her up. He speaks her language, but will not listen to her because his mind is set on taking her back to his giant country to prove that his fanciful travel tales about places like Lilliput are true. The giant, of course, is Dr. Lemuel Gulliver, and he’s working on a book about his travels. While he feverishly revises drafts by candlelight, Lily berates him from her cage and plots one escape after another. But after numerous failed attempts, escape looks hopeless–until a boy named Finn comes looking for her in response to a message she wrote and tied to a mouse’s tail.
Dr. Gulliver isn’t nice, but the real villain of the story is Mr. Plinker, Gulliver’s clockmaker landlord. Plinker specializes in clockwork torture, such as the device he binds on the arm of his hopeless apprentice Finn: a “waste-not watch” that pinches tighter with every minute the boy isn’t working. Plinker is such a thoroughly unpleasant character that he drags the story into a mood unpleasantly dark, even though it ends happily. A lighter touch would have been welcome, but Lily is a game, feisty little character with a few tricks (and unexplained magical abilities) up her sleeve, and at least one shady character is redeemed. If they’re not turned off by unnecessary bloodshed, readers may be intrigued enough to explore the travels of the “real” fictional Gulliver.
Cautions: Language (one “hell”), Violence (cruelty)
Overall rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
Categories: Middle Grade, Fantasy