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The Gammage Cup

by Carol Kendall
288 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Jeanne

An excellent fantasy for younger children with good morals and values.

Plot

In the fantastical Land Between the Mountains, the town of Slipper-on-the-Water is preparing itself for the day when the judges will come and see if it is the best town to receive the prized artifact, the Gammage Cup. But days before their arrival trouble begins brewing in the mountains, and five residents of the town, known derisively as "Them," are banished for talking about it. Can the town of Slipper-on-the-Water unite to defeat the invading evil? And more importantly, can the five Outlaws right the trouble brewing in the town itself?

Morality

The morality is good and clean. Many of the Minnipins, particularly the overbearing Period family, are self-centered and greedy for the prize of the Gammage Cup; their actions to attain this goal are never condoned. The main characters defy the town mayor in painting their doors pretty colors and are punished by being exiled from the town. Each of the characters does have faults that come to bear on the tale, but virtue is presented as virtue: loyalty, unity, hard work, and cheerfulness are all presented.

Spiritual Content

Virtually non-existent. There are no references to any religion that the Minnipins have.

Violence

One Minnipin gets bashed over the head, and at the end there is a non-graphic battle.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

The Gammage Cup is a splendid children's fantasy based on the age-old 'good against evil'. Well-written, charming and often hilarious, it serves as proof that stories for children need not be simplistic: the plot, which deals as much with acceptance, love and fellowship as it does with "defeating the bad guys," is at once clever and charming. (And the rhymes and poems at the start of each chapter make a wonderful addition.) In many ways it is not an ordinary fantasy: it deals with everyday sort of folk in their everyday lives, until those lives get a nasty shock. Muggles, the main character, is supposedly simple - certainly she is not your average heroine. Ms. Kendall, however, takes these threads and weaves them together into a tale full of life, and humor, and truth. It is not an epic, but it is one of the most charming books out there today.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 8-10

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