Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The Whisper of Glocken, by Carol Kendall, is a children’s fantasy novel, and the sequel to The Gammage Cup. Five years after the events of The Gammage Cup, when a flood of biblical proportions strikes their valley, the Minnipins must send forth a group to find a solution. For no good reason at all, other than that Kendall wanted to write some new, more annoying characters, the original team from The Gammage Cup voluntarily sits this one out.

The land they journey to is apparently the land of convenient happenings. Everything that needs to happen more or less happens on its own (Help! We’re being attacked by relatively unthreatening creatures that conveniently drop the most valuable substance that we just ran out of when you kill them!), and to a large extent the Minnipins just go with the flow (although they do each conveniently get their own opportunities for heroism). Story elements intended to be suspenseful are obvious, even to small children. Worst, the deus ex machina at the end is unforgivable.

While The Gammage Cup was all about individuality, The Whisper of Glocken is without such an overbearing moral (although “people who stink are people too” comes close). The real moral here is that a hero is as a hero does.

Kendall’s writing keeps the book moving most of the time in spite of its many flaws. There is a certain charm to her characters, even if this batch is distinctly unlikable. As she did in The Gammage Cup, Kendall has trouble writing above the very personal level. There are narrative problems in scenes involving multiple characters, and she doesn’t always connect scenes together well.

Ultimately, there’s just too much going on here that’s happening for no other reason than that Kendall wanted it to. About the only thing The Whisper of Glocken has going for it is that certain charm with which Kendall writes. And it just isn’t enough.