The Smidgens by David O’Connell

Rule #1 – Stay hidden and observe

Rule #2 – Don’t do anything flippin’ stupid

Rule #3 – Be ready to run, and run fast

Rule #4 – In in doubt, make it up

These are the rules that the Smidgens live by. Smidgens are exactly like humans…just tiny. The Sprout family live in the House, a maze of rooms carved into a stone wall, accessed from a network of tunnels, called the Tangle. They were once part of a community of Smidgens who lived here, but now they are the only ones who remain. They take food and items that they need to survive from the Big Folk. Gafferty Sprout and her little brother, Gobkin, are on their way back home from a mission to get a deep-fried chip for their dinner when Gafferty his chased by a mysterious creature. Gafferty falls through the tunnel, to a forgotten section of the Tangle and discovers a book that will lead her on an adventure to parts of the world she could only dream about. However, the sneaky and sinister Claudia Slymark and her Seekers are hunting for Smidgens. Claudia believes the Smidgens know the whereabouts of a magical object that she needs to find, and she will do anything to get her hands on it. With the help of some unexpected friends, Gafferty and Gobkin must foil her plans.

The Smidgens is a rollicking adventure about the tiny humans with big hearts. There is something in this story for everyone, from nail-biting chases and clever disguises, to vile villains and teeny heroes. David hooks you from the first page, with our heroes’ quest to get a deep-fried chip for their dinner, and you can’t help but be whisked away with the Smidgens and their adventures underneath the feet of the Big Folk. I was fascinated with The Borrowers as a kid, and I would often wonder if there really were tiny people living in the walls. The Smidgens will fascinate a new generation of readers in the same way, and make them wonder if they might be real.

There are a couple of things that I really love about The Smidgens. The costumes that the Sprouts wear are really clever. Gafferty and Gobkin have special costumes that they wear when they go out in to the world of the Big Folk, to help camouflage them. Gafferty is a spider and Gobkin is a fly, so that if Big Folk see them, they’ll just think that they are pests, rather than tiny humans. I also really love the Seekers in the story, and the parts that they played. The inclusion of them in the story was unexpected and added an interesting aspect. You’ll have to read the book to find out who they are and what part they play.

Seb Burnett’s illustrations are marvellous, especially his cover for the book. It certainly grabbed me, with Gobkin’s guilty face as he takes some cake, and Gafferty swinging across the cover with a big smile on her face. Seb gives us glimpses of the world of the Smidgens, from the house that they live in, to the costumes that they wear. I especially love Seb’s depiction of Claudia Slymark and her Seekers, as he has really highlighted their nastiness.

The Smidgens is the first book in this new series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next. This would make a great read aloud for Years 4-6, as it will grab everyone’s attention. Be prepared to read ‘just one more chapter’ though, as David is very good at leaving you hanging.

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