From The Borrowers to Brambly Hedge: The 10 best miniature worlds in children's books
Published on: 08 September 2020
Isadora Moon and Victoria Stitch author Harriet Muncaster loves exploring tiny worlds! Here, she shares some of her favourite children's books exploring life in miniature...
The front cover of A Mouse Called Julian
I have always been fascinated by miniatures, and some of my favourite books as a child - and still now as a grown-up - are those where the characters are tiny. I love being able to explore the world through a miniature person's eyes. Here is a list (in no particular order) of some of my favourite books featuring tiny worlds.
1. A Mouse Called Julian by Joe Todd-Stanton
This is a recent picture book that my 3-year-old and I love. Julian is a mouse who doesn't like socializing and keeps himself apart from all other animals. He lives in a tiny mouse house underground, and I love getting a peek into his world and also seeing him adventure out into the big (and sometimes bad!) countryside. Joe Todd-Stanton's illustrations are just beautiful!
2. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
This is an obvious choice, but I absolutely adore the Borrowers books. I actually re-read four out of the five of them during the pandemic as I find them so comforting.
It's wonderful to explore Pod, Homily and Arrietty's miniature world beneath the floorboards of a human house, and equally as exciting to watch them have to leave their home and venture out into the countryside. The detail of how the world looks through the eyes of a Borrower is incredible!
'Panting a little Arrietty gazed about her. She saw great chair legs rearing up into sunlight; she saw the shadowed undersides of their seats spread above her like canopies'
3. Mighty Min by Melissa Castrillon
Mighty Min is another recent picture book find that both my daughter and I love. Min lives at the bottom of a garden with her four small-but-mighty aunts.
Her aunts all have amazing stories to tell and Min wishes she had her own, when suddenly she is whisked off on an adventure in the claws of an owl. This book is about being brave, even when you are very tiny, and the illustrations are stylish and stunning!
4. Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem
Brambly Hedge is another classic, but one I have to mention! In this series, a community of mice live inside hollow trees in the countryside - the books are utterly charming and beautifully illustrated in full colour.
Every detail of their lives has been thought out and you can see this in the illustrations. There are lots of cut-through images of the tree trunk homes where you can see how everything works, right down to the pipework in their bathrooms!
5. Tottie: The Story of a Dollshouse by Rumer Godden
Illustration: Joanna Jamieson
I re-read this book recently for the nostalgia! I adore the story of a tiny wooden peg doll called Tottie who lives inside a dollshouse with three other dolls. I also enjoy the linework illustrations, and I remember being particularly enchanted by one where Tottie is wearing a sweet knitted woolen cape and sitting on an autumn leaf.
The story is centered round the dolls' world inside their dollshouse and how they relate to the human children who own them. It also has a dark edge to it!
6. Tooth Fairy in Training by Michelle Robinson and Briony May Smith
This book was published last year and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it! It's about a little tooth fairy called Tate and the trials and tribulations of becoming a tooth fairy. The depictions of the fairies' miniature world are so magical!
7. Scribble Witch by Inky Willis
A book about a miniature character with a twist! Tiny Scribble Witch (also called Notes) is made from paper and lives in a pencil pot. She becomes Molly's special little friend at school and tries her best to help out. I especially love the fact that Notes flies about on a pencil for a broomstick. Genius!
8. The Spider and the Fly by Tony Diterlizzi, based on the cautionary tale by Mary Howitt
This is a picture book that my daughter asks for again and again. The scale is even smaller than usual here as we are brought right into the bugs' world, which is set in what looks like a human sized attic. The illustrations are beautifully gothic and elegant and there is so much detail to pore over!
9. Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Prøysen
Mrs Pepperpot was another favourite as a child and I had the omnibus, which I read many times! Mrs Pepperpot is a slightly cranky old woman who can shrink to the size of a pepperpot. Often this happens to her at the most inconvenient times. She is constantly having to get out of all sorts of scrapes!
10. City Mouse, Country Mouse by Maggie Rudy
The illustrations in this book are really wonderful - they are all created in 3D and then photographed! It's a story set in the miniature world of mice and everything photographed is actually miniature. There is so much detail in each picture and the story is a lovely, modern twist on the classic tale of the town mouse and the country mouse.
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