Billy and the Minpins
112pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99
Billy’s mum is always telling what to do and what not to do to be good, But all the things he was allowed to do were boring, and those he was forbidden were exciting. The one thing he was not allowed to do was to never ever go outside the gate all by himself and certainly to never go into the Forest of Sins which he could see from the loungeroom window. His mother painted a fearsome picture of the beasts that lived there – Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers, Snozzwanglers, Vernicious Knids and most terrifying of all, the Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler- and told him that while many went in, none came out.
Billy figured this was just mother-talk to keep him from breaking the rules so when one day The Devil whispered in his ear, he could resist no longer and out the window he climbed, through the gate he went and into the forest he disappeared…
Roald Dahl is master storyteller and he loved to write stories for children that made them not only the heroes but also in defiance of the adults in their lives, so this is Dahl at his best. While not as well known as some of his other works, it is nevertheless just as gripping and intriguing and engaging as the others. This new edition is the first time that Quentin Blake has done the illustrations for it in his iconic style and as usual he has brought Dahl’s imagination and words to life. They are liberally scattered throughout the text, breaking up both the words and the tension so that this is a perfect version for the newly-independent reader venturing into the world of “chapter books’ while, at the same time, introducing fans to a not-so-familiar story.
To me, the perfect novel is one I can hear and see myself reading to my students and just as The BFG captured me from the get-go so did this. This needs to be on your read-aloud list for 2018.