In the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, this story introduces readers to the hidden magical—and mysterious—world of gnomes, elves, and trolls.
Eleven-year-old Sarah moves with her family from New York City to rural Hadley, Connecticut. She's eager to explore her new home and meet new friends, but she never expected to befriend an old garden gnome.
Readers join Sarah as she is drawn into a secret world under our feet. Sarah uses her instincts to calm old rivalries and help the underworld elves, gnomes, and more join her in the upperworld.
"A lonely eleven-year-old discovers a secret underworld filled with gnomes and trolls in Jeff Dinardo's quirky fantasy tale, The One Great Gnome. The day after she and her parents move from New York City to rural Connecticut, Sarah finds a stone gnome in their potting shed. But it isn't a statue. As she returns the miniature sword to his hilt, the gnome comes alive, telling her he's been sent to the surface from the underground land of Oglinoth to search for a way to beat the trolls who have taken over the gnome kingdom.
Like Alice falling into Wonderland, Sarah follows the gnome, Vesper, through a tiny door and discovers a world
beneath her feet. She promises to help Vesper save the gnomes, but the more she learns about Oglinoth, the more she realizes that the trolls may have a different motive.
Sarah's friendly nature endears her to others right away. She empathizes with each gnome, troll, and human she comes across. Her joyful and curious disposition helps as her new, eccentric friends sweep her into their years-long conflict, in which she becomes an understanding intermediary. Vesper and the other gnomes, as well as the trolls, speak as if their rivalry exists because it always has, and it's hard for them to hear anything different until they listen to Sarah's outsider perspective.
Whimsical events become layered and humorous because of the story's straightforward narration, including
nonsensical actions and quaint traditions, and its quirky illustrations are complementary feature. With tributes to
imaginative children’s classics embedded in it, The One Great Gnome is an endlessly fun middle grade adventure."—Foreword Reviews—Website
"An 11-year-old girl falls into a parallel world of fantastical creatures in this illustrated novel for readers.
Kindhearted, book-loving Sarah is resolved to make the best of her family's move from New York City to her parents' dream home in rural Connecticut. While exploring the shed in the backyard, she discovers Vesper, a gnome that she inadvertently revives from a frozen statue state, and is compelled to follow him back to his homeland, which is plagued by a struggle between his fellow gnomes and their presumed enemies, the trolls. Plot-driven chapters that emphasize characters over worldbuilding will draw a variety of readers into this adventure, and straightforward, humorous third-person narration keeps the twisting, turning story moving. Though character development is minimal, the situations that are presented allow Sarah's empathy and understanding to take on a pivotal importance in a way that feels fairly natural, if a bit unsubtle in its messaging. Black-and-white vignettes are interspersed throughout, providing fuzzy, soft-edged imagery for the creatures. The humanoid beings in the story seem to assume a white default, and there are no textual details about Sarah's race or culture, though her surname is Arroyo, suggesting that her family may be of Hispanic descent.
A brief fantasy tale that may appeal to readers who aren't usually fans of the genre.