Monday, December 2, 2013

Loved to Pieces . . . with Rebecca Rupp

Look who's joined us for tea! It's Rebecca Rupp, award-winning author of nearly two dozen books for both kids and adults, among them The Dragon of Lonely Island, The Waterstone, and After Eli.  

Rebecca, what was your first favorite book?

As a bookworm-ish kid (with thick glasses), I had so many favorite books that it’s hard to settle on a title. Favorites were – still are – a sort of rapidly moving progression. You know, like calculus.

Some, though, packed such a punch that I have l flashbulb memories of just when I first found them and where they were on the library shelves. And one of
these (top shelf under the fish tank) was Carol Kendall’s The Gammage Cup.

The Gammage Cup – though pretty much invisible nowadays - was a Newbery Honor Book back in 1960. (It’s still in print, and well worth tracking down because it’s wonderful.) 

It’s the story of the Minnipins, a race of little people who lived in a string of villages along a river valley in the Land Between the Mountains. The particular subset of Minnipins featured in the book came from Slipper-on-the-Water – named for the site where Gammage, their ancient founder, lost his shoe – and they’re a special case: their village is home to the Periods, descendants of Fooley the Magnificent, who at some distant point in Minnipin history left the Land Between the Mountains in a hot-air balloon and returned with a basket-load of artifacts.

Among these was a list of abbreviations  - Ltd., Co., Bros., Wm., Gen., Eng., Scot., Etc. Rd., St., Ave, and & - which Fooley’s wife thought so distinguished that she gave these names to her children.  That is, the first Periods.

The Periods have Slipper-on-the-Water under their collective thumbs, and when a contest arises to win the historical Gammage Cup – to be given to the best of the Minnipin villages – they go into overdrive, demanding that everything in the village not only be scrubbed, refurbished, and spruced up, but must conform to a standard. All front doors, for example, must be green.

The problem: some villagers simply don’t fit in. Gummy wanders around writing poetry; Curley Green paints pictures – which the Periods condemn as “blobs;” and Walter the Earl, digging for treasure beneath his house, finds armor and swords that relate to a long-forgotten Minnipin history that the Periods flatly deny. And then there are Mingy, the gruff but honest town treasurer, and Muggles, dismissed by all, who turns out to have more kindness and commonsense than the rest put together. These five, forced to leave the village, become heroes when the Land Between the Mountains is invaded by the evil spear-toting Mushrooms.

The theme of the book is individuality versus conformity, and there’s a triumphant vindication (with flaming swords) for the former. It’s a wonderful read for every not-quite-in-the-mainstream kid and I love it to this day.

As Muggles says, some of us just aren’t made to have green front doors.


Rebecca Rupp is the award-winning author of nearly two dozen books for both kids and adults, among them The Dragon of Lonely Island, The Waterstone, Journey to the Blue Moon, Sarah Simpson’s Rules for Living, Octavia Boone’s Big Questions, and After Eli. She has also written a number of books and many articles on alternative education and maintains an education resources blog at

Candlewick Press, 2012 / ISBN 978-0-7636-5810-6

 ★ "Three years after his much older brother, Eli, died as a soldier in Iraq, 14-year-old Daniel is still trying to cope with the loss. . . . The well-structured story quietly builds to a moving climax and a worthy, satisfying conclusion." Booklist (starred review)

"The pain running through the narrative is tempered with hope, humor, and resilience." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Far more than a summer romance, this is a tribute to those left behind." —Kirkus (starred review)


Candlewick Press, 2002 / ISBN 978-0-7636-0726-5

"The well-crafted tale and careful attention to detail will have young readers forgetting that the characters are only a few inches tall. . . . An amazing journey of surprising proportions." —Kirkus (starred review)

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