'Smallness is no hindrance to strength': David Almond tells us his favourite tiny characters

Published on: 25 May 2017 Author: David Almond

The Tale of Angelino Brown author David Almond picks his other favourite miniscule characters in children's books.

David Almond

My favourite tiny characters? Some of these aren't exactly tiny, but what links all of them is the fact that their presence far outstrips their stature.

We've always been haunted by characters who are quite like ourselves but happen to be tiny. Maybe we all have tiny versions of ourselves hiding away in our psyches. Maybe we worry that we live in a land of giants and we need tales about little characters who reflect our own fears of being inadequate, but who show us that smallness is no hindrance to strength.

Tom ThumbTom Thumb, for instance, has been with us always. He's an ever-present in English folklore, and he pops up in books, rhymes and songs all through history. He's so small he can live in a pudding but so strong he can play a part in King Arthur's Court.





The BorrowersThere are Mary Norton's wonderful Borrowers, of course. Intriguing, mysterious, adventurous, they live beneath the floorboards and behind the skirting boards of all children's literature.





How To Train Your DragonA great pairing of small characters: Cressida Cowell's Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the apparently weak and scrawny Viking lad, and his apparently useless dragon, Toothless. They're the beating heart of one of the great series of children's books of the last century.




Flat StanleyStanley Lambchop is squashed flat by a bulletin board and becomes Jeff Brown's work of genius, Flat Stanley. He slides under doors, is used as a kite and is mailed in an envelope, and becomes an unforgettable presence in the mind of anyone who reads about him.




Charlotte's WebAnd most wonderful of all: Charlotte A Cavatica, the spider, who lives at the centre of Charlotte's Web. Clever, wise, enterprising, a good friend and a good writer. She can save the lives of others but must allow herself to die in order that her own descendants can populate the barns of the future. But she is not gone. She lives on in the pages of her great book. She is always there, so small she can hardly be seen, up in the rafters of the dusty barn, up in the rafters of our hearts and minds.

The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond, illustrated by Alex T Smith, is out now, published by Walker Books.

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