By Sylvia Waugh
There are some books that have a peculiar charm because you read them as a child. You can reread them a dozen times and never get tired of the story. Other people hear you rave and raise one eyebrow, wondering if they’re missing something. The Mennyms is such a book.
The Mennynm family has lived in Brocklehurst Grove as long as anyone can remember. There’s Grandma, Granny Tulip, Joshua and Vanessa, and their five children, Appleby, Soobie, Poopie and Wimpie (twins) and baby Googles. (I wrote their names from memory, see?) Also Ms Quigley, who pretends to reside on Trafalgar Street, but really lives in the hall cupboard.
The Mennyms are not peculiar. They’re just a family of life-size rag dolls who have, by years of practice, learned to live alongside humans without attracting notice. They are quite good at being invisible, until one day, a letter arrives in the mail slot. A letter from their landlord’s nephew, who just inherited their house and would very much like to visit.
I could go on and on about this book. It’s lovely. Absolutely lovely. I mean, look at their names! Poopie and Wimpie? How can you not love this family? Their pretends—drinking “tea” every afternoon from empty cups, hauling out a cardboard turkey each Thanksgiving, lying on their beds each night with their button eyes staring up at the ceiling—their pretends only endear them more. Although The Mennyms is the first in a series of five, the first can stand alone, and I personally prefer it alone. (Waugh gets into some weird stuff in her later books, but perhaps it’s just because the first book was the only one I read for years and years.)
There is so much in this book—clever, clever wit, intrigue, ingenuity, characters that grab your heart and twist it. Remember You’ve Got Mail? Remember Kathleen’s voice when she tells Joe about Pride and Prejudice: “Ahh. Read it. You’ll love it.” That’s me right now, about The Mennyms.