Sunday, November 2, 2008

THE GAMMAGE CUP by Carol Kendall

The Gammage Cup, originally published in 1959, is a children’s fantasy novel by Carol Kendall. It centers on the Minnipins, an isolated race of stuck-up traditionalists, who eject the nonconformist elements from their midst. These exiles (one of whom is named Muggles – take that, J.K. Rowling!), to no one’s surprise, become responsible for saving the day, and in doing so win the battle for individuality.

The Gammage Cup is, at its heart, a morality tale about nonconformity and individuality. This cannot be missed, nor can it be disputed, as Kendall always goes the extra mile to hammer the reader with that. The story remains engaging, though, because Kendall’s characters are interesting and the book moves at a fairly brisk pace. The interaction between the characters is also well done. Her little world is well-created, and she fits in a surprising amount of its history without ever becoming tedious.

The book falls a little flat at the end, though, as Kendall seems to rush through the mysterious (and ridiculous-looking) invaders, the magic swords, the battle, and so forth. She writes well on the individual, personal level; less so on that larger scale.

On the whole, The Gammage Cup is a heavy-handed but decent children’s fantasy novel.