Last of the Gullivers
By Carter Crocker
Philomel Books, Hardcover, 9780399242311, 217pp.
Publication Date: January 19, 2012
List Price: $16.99*
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A stunning sequel to a storytelling classic, with a contemporary twist
Michael Pine is a boy with no direction in life. Mixed up in gangs, he is headed straight for a juvenile detention center. Until he is given a second chance and discovers a world beyond his imagination. A world of Lilliputians - people the mere size of a thumb. But this is a world in terrible danger, and they need Michael's help. But Michael has some trouble of his own - he's been framed for theft and it appears his second chance is about to expire. He needs to do what he can to save the Lilliputians from certain death. But how can he save them if he's locked up for a crime he didn't commit?
Using elements of the original Gulliver's Travels, Carter Crocker has created an exciting and enchanting story perfect for kids today.
The wind has been blowing as long as anyone can remember in Moss-on-Stone. Orphaned Michael Pine is 12 years old, directionless, and vulnerable to the demands of the local gang leader. “It’s your time, Michael,” Nick says, unknowingly communicating a greater fate than either boy could possibly imagine. When Michael discovers a village of little people (Lilliputians) living behind crazy old Lemuel Gulliver’s cottage, his purpose in life becomes clear–he must protect these small folk from the dangers of the outside world. This becomes more challenging after Lemuel leaves to reunite with an old flame and Michael is framed for theft at the market where he works. He recruits his new friend Jane, a parochial-school girl looking to break free from her father’s vigilant eye, to assist him. On the one hand, this follow-up to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels serves as a fantasy adventure with a fresh, relatable protagonist to those unfamiliar with the classic. On the other hand, it’s a smart, sophisticated nod to Swift’s satirical original. Using the omniscient third-person point of view, Crocker develops Michael’s character through the boy’s actions and dialogue as well as the observations of others. With a deft hand, he shows readers that Michael is not as lost as he is believed to be, and that perhaps it’s the leaders of the villages–both big and small–who should be concerned about the way their lives are blowing. Timely.–Alison O’Reilly, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY
Michael is small for 12, and he is headed for trouble: no dreams, no drive, and Nick’s Boys want him tobecome a more permanent fixture in their gang. So in a way, his encounter with trouble and the resultingrequired community-service job do Michael a huge favor. He is brought into contact with old LemuelGulliver, living on the outskirts of town and guarding nearly 200 Lilliputians living behind his stone wall.Michael is enchanted by their cleverness and determination, and when Lemuel leaves to pursue his owndream, the boy must make some hard choices in order to do what is best for the little people. This is abeautifully realized novel, brimming with hope and sparkling with magic in many forms. Characters (of allsizes) are fully orbed, and the setting so vivid you can smell the clover and hear the music, even while itresides uneasily next to our world of unkindness and violence. With a respectful nod to Swift’simagination, the pleasing resolution manages to satisfy without compromising.— Melissa Moore
Twelve-year-old Michael is headed for a life of gangs and thuggery until a dust-up with the law brings him to the backyard of one Lemuel Gulliver; there a miniature town and its pint-sized residents give Michael’s life new direction. Gulliver introduces Michael to the Lesser Lilliputians as their next guardian, and the young boy takes to his new duties with enthusiasm, repairing fire-damaged buildings, helping the residents construct a new town center, and fending off the latest invasion of weasels. When Gulliver takes off, however, Michael’s old gang life catches up with him and he finds himself in juvenile hall, leaving the little people vulnerable to murderous rodents and scheming gang members. Specific knowledge of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels isn’t necessary, but readers will need some pretty sophisticated sensibilities to get Crocker’s adult-oriented humor, including allusions to grand poobahs and macguffins; indeed, most of the satirical elements of the Lilliputians’ society have the potential to fly over the heads of the book’s target audience. Michael’s story, however, works well as a tale of redemption, and his transformation from a lost and neglected nobody to a thoughtful, devoted caretaker of an entire village is heartwarming. The slew of action in the last thirty pages or so helps compensate for a slow start, so readers who stick it out will be duly rewarded by an exciting chase and a happy ending. KQG