The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall is a book I’ve always known about. It is one of my sister’s favorite books and one she’s always been trying to get me to read. Well, I really had no choice once she gifted me a copy. And now I can see why it’s one of her favorites.
The Gammage Cup is the story of the Minnipins. Centuries ago the Minnipins found sanctuary from the Mushrooms, or Hairless Ones, in the Land Between the Mountains. Living peaceful lives without threat from their enemies outside of their valley, they wouldn’t dream of anything harming them.
It’s also the story of ‘Them’; Muggles, the hoarder who curates the local museum; Walter the Earl, the eccentric historian; Gummy, a head in the clouds poet; Curley Green, the artist; and Mingy, the frugal town treasurer, who become unlikely heroes of the small village, Slipper-On-The-Water.
Muggles wakes early one morning and sees something unusual; fires burning on the mountain. She dismisses it as a dream. When Walter the Earl and Gummy acknowledge the strange occurance, her concern begins to grow. However, the town leaders, known as the Periods, don’t take the potential threat seriously. They are more concerned with winning the prestigious Gammage Cup for their village. The Gammage Cup belonged to Gammage, who all those centuries ago, led the Minnipins to safety into the Land Between the Mountains. Judges visit each village within the Land Between the Mountains to determine which one is deemed worthy to acquire the cup. But when Curley Green’s scarlet door is considered an eye sore that could lose them the Gammage Cup, someone secretly paints her door green, like every Minnipin's door in Slipper-On-The-Water and it sets off a battle of wills between the conformist Periods and ‘Them’, who are told to leave their homes but can return once the judging is over.
When the potential threat becomes all too real, though, Muggles and her fellow outcasts must convince the other Minnipins of Slipper-On-The-Water that it’s up to them to fight, and save their village before it’s too late.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It has a very likable cast of characters, my favorite being Muggles of course, who finds she has a lot of strength and courage, and is not all that dim, as some have always thought of her. Mingy is another favorite. At first he seems like he’s just one of the Minnipins, guarding the town treasury, literally by carrying the chest everywhere he goes. But when he puts his foot down over extravagant spending that is unnecessary, you kind of wish he was overseeing our government, and you feel bad for him when he’s caught up in the Slipper-On-The-Water pile up against ‘Them’.
The writing and descriptions contain just enough detail to paint a lovely picture of the Minnipins and the Land Between the Mountains. It has all the elements I love in books such as Redwall and the early Harry Potter books; the whimsy and great descriptions of food.
I only had two problems with the book. One was the outcasts instinct to build an army to fight the Mushrooms. Sure, the Minnipins escaped from them centuries before, but I doubt these Mushrooms were specifically looking for them. They were mining and happened to finally tunnel through the mountain, only to be met with Minnipins with swords that glow. I think if I were a Mushroom that would scare the hell out of me and I think I’d be on the defensive too.
My second issue was the pairing up at the end of the outcasts. It was a little out of left field with not much build up of the particular pairings that happened.
I did like that the outcasts stayed true to themselves, they didn’t back down and conform along with the rest of the Minnipins of Slipper-On-The-Water. Overall it’s an enjoyable book that an adult can enjoy, reading on their own, or with a young one.