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The Little Grey Men

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  984 ratings  ·  75 reviews
The last four gnomes in Britain live by a Warwickshire brook. But when one of them decides to go and explore and doesn't return, it's up to the remaining three to build a boat and set out to find him. This is the story of the gnomes' epic journey in search of Cloudberry and is set against the background of the English countryside, beginning in spring, continuing through su ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published 2012 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1942)
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Rachel Brown
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The last gnomes in Britain, three tiny brothers, decide to go looking for their missing brother Cloudberry, who sailed up the river two years ago and never returned.

This book ought to be on the same list of British countryside classics as Watership Down and The Wind In The Willows, which it somewhat resembles. It was a favorite of mine as a child, and it holds up when I read it as an adult. “BB” balances sweetness with the harsh realities both of nature and of encroaching civilization to create
...more
Miriam
Do gnomes with names like "Cloudberry" sound too twee for your taste?
Never fear, you can still enjoy this book for its endless description of vegetation and scenery.
Susan
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1942 this glorious read won the Carnegie Medal for the most outstanding children’s book of that year and has been reissued several times ; it’s latest incarnation is this kindle version, which will hopefully find it a whole new audience. BB was the pen name of Denys Watkins-Pitchford and he later wrote a sequel called, “Down the Bright Stream,” which has also been published on kindle. Denys Watkins-Pitchford had a great love of the countryside and this is reflected in his writ ...more
Christopher Newton
I started read The Little Grey Men when I was 10 or 11. I liked it very much but, for some forgotten reason, had to return it to the library before I finished it. It must have stuck in my mind though, because when I saw a reference to it the other week, I remembered it and decided to get it out and try again, this time from a library on the far side of the continent. Here's what I found.

It's glorious writing, beyond writing really, more of a window into a lost world, lost to me anyway -- how it
...more
N.K. Wright
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can honestly say "The Little Grey Men" remains my favorite book from grade school. For a boy who grew up in the wild, wild west, this book--with its view of nature, its penchant for adventure, characters who remain true to themselves, and enough tinkering to keep Santa happy--was a happy, magical escape from school and chores. Some years back I found a 1949 version on eBay just so I could have a copy close to the one I read in 5th grade. I also have new paperbacks of this and the sequel. I'm s ...more
Adam Nevill
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read just over 90 books this year, most of them having remained unread on my shelves for a few years - 2017 was a catch-up year. And if I was to choose my favourite book of the year, it would be 'The Little Grey Men' by BB (Denys Watkins-Pitchford).

A children's book (nothing to do with aliens) and the epic story of the last gnomes in England, who explore upstream in search of their missing brother.

My Dad read it to us when we were young and I’ve been waiting for my daughter to become old en
...more
Tania
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of the last Gnomes in England. This was read to me as a child and all I remembered of it was that I loved it. It was just as enjoyable re-read as an adult.
Mikayla
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good children's book and would make very good reading for a child over 8 years old.
Catherine Mason
Positives: This is a beautifully written book. It is a story and a natural history at the same time. The author conveys a great love of the English countryside and its plants and animals. It is a slow and enchanting escape from the modern world, but with the spice of an adventure. It is also delightfully illustrated by the author.
Negatives: This book was first published in 1942 and some of its prejudices from that era can jar on occasion. As well as being a nature lover the author was also a hun
...more
Adam
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three gnome characters of The Little Grey Men have lived for, as far as we know, a couple of thousand years in pretty much the same spot on a stream they call Folly Brook. However, civilization is crowding in on them, and they are not sure whether any others of their kind remain in Britain. When their brother--a fourth gnome, named Cloudberry--has been absent for a year on a lone adventure up the Folly, the other three decide, after much debate, to go looking for him.

The Little Grey Men is o
...more
KA N Newton
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Read as a borrowed book from local library when I was about 8 - suggested by good librarian.

Author name is difficult as he was only named as B.B.

I had to ask my busy mother about meanings of some words when I read it.

It is about four little gnomes living near a brook called The Holly, which is a stream of water. Dodder, Baldmoney, Cloudberry, and Sneezewort, the last gnomes in England.

It is a gentle children's story. A great book to be read chapter by chapter at bedtime yet not too childish for
...more
Pam
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mommy-s-shelf
I'd like to give this book 4.5 stars! It was absolutely charming, and so delightfully, Britishly written - published in 1942! I would love to have someone read this book to me in an English accent! This book included illustrations by the author, and several pieces of music (written out as sheet music!) which I believe the author wrote as well, and which I am happy to be listening to my daughter, C, play right now! Truly well done! I read this book because I saw it on an internet list of books pe ...more
janetandjohn
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Published such a long time ago, but if you have children who read anything, find this, buy this, borrow this and leave it around...... a glorious tale of the last four gnomes in England. They are so real you may find yourself looking out for them if you are in the right part of the country (Warwickshire). But take care! they are very small, and the hide themselves from danger with such skill. This and the follow-on Down the Bright Stream were part of my childhood, but have read them more than on ...more
Darrenml
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely tale. I read about this in Countryfile magazine which highly recommended it as suitable for both children and adults. I cannot agree more. The tale takes us back into beautiful olde england, with tales of the adventures of the last 4 gnomes in Britain. Beautiful descriptions of all things nature, animals and creatures (Stream People) come alive. There are wood dogs (foxes), hedgepigs (hedgehogs!), Kingfishers, Otters, Bub,ms (rabbits), Heaven Hounds (Geese), snooty pheasants to nam ...more
Tweedledum
BB's children's classic introduces the reader to the gnomes eye view of life beside the river. When one of the gnome companions fails to return after going searching for the source of the river, his three friends set off to look for him. Dangers and problems abound as the gnomes journey upstream and as autumn draws on to autumn their journey seems increasingly foolhardy . When the gnomes are tossed up by a storm on an island in the middle of a lake, having lost their boat and fast running out of ...more
Alex Ankarr
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very gentle, sedate fantasy adventure, with just a few moments of high excitement. I give it four stars for the quality of the writing, although I usually like fantasy novels with more of the fantasy equivalent of car chases, explosions and alien invasions. The characterization is good enough that one does suffer along with the gnomes, lots of angst hoping for their safe journey and eventual reunion. If you invest the effort into really getting into the book then I think it pays off, although ...more
Louise
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it
stands the text of time quite nicely this one, telling the story not just of the last four gnomes in england, but of nature, and the countryside as a whole.
we felt we learnt a few things about the british wildlife and its habitats,
Emily
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Rabbit Hill, The Wind in the Willows
The author also wrote nonfiction titles for adults about the natural world--you can tell in the loving, detailed descriptions of flora and fauna. Adventure, humor, excitement, and rich writing.
Lucy
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
All year as I walked with Dennis past the little brook at Forty Hall I have thought at Christmas I will revisit this magical world of my youth and I am so glad I did. BB has a wonderful way of making nature spring out of his pages, and as a child reading this you have a magical story interspersed with facts about the countryside. Trivia note This was Syd Barrett’s favourite book! Highly recommended for children of all ages!
Judith Clayton
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought the beautiful Slightly Foxed edition of this wonderful book and read it for the first time as an adult and was transported to another world. I loved it.

Beautiful phrases and descriptions of life in the folly brook and their adventure upstream.

“Two little shivers crept up two little spines”. Perfect.
Francis
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story about gnomes (little people) living by a small river and their interaction with all the riverside creatures. Great fishermen! Their journeys bring great adventures. Superb feel for the countryside comes through the writing, a real strength of B.B.
Anne
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely delightful. Full of natural history and sweet folklore.
Eclectic Indulgence
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Charming. Probably a 3.5 Star but read at this point in my life, it was a great comfort so gets the round up to 4.
Kim
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Three gnome brothers - Baldmoney, Dodder and Sneezewort - decide to search for their more adventurous brother Cloudberry, who went upstream to find the source of the Folly Brook and never returned.

This lyrical ode to the wonders of nature is a leisurely read, meandering even, with a few close calls and dangerous misadventures thrown in for good measure. At first only Baldmoney and Sneezewort set out, as Dodder refuses to leave home, but he quickly follows after, as he can't stand the loneliness.
...more
Katharine Ott
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The Little Grey Men" - written by BB and published in 1942. Fresh off of a delightful theater viewing of "Mary Poppins," this fun tale was just the thing, being part of "The Julie Andrews Collection." (The logo on the cover sticker is an umbrella!) BB is a psuedonym for Denys Watkins-Pitchford, English author and illustrator, who gracefully showed his love for nature in books for children and adults.

If you enjoy Tolkienesque depictions of birds, trees, creeks and woodland inhabitants, then this
...more
Marsha
A long-lost fairy tale that remains a timeless classic. Easily evoking the beauty of the English countryside, the ever-shifting changing of the seasons and the stout heart that lies within even the smallest breasts, this simple tale of the last three gnomes setting out in search of their long-lost brother is something to treasure. It deals almost entirely with the Little People (who aren’t what most people consider them to be), a dangerous giant and a wondrous god. Written in 1942, it also conta ...more
Jonathan
Whilst well composed, complex enough (as a children's book) for an adult to enjoy and apt in its description and celebration of nature, The Little Grey Men is unfortunately xenophobic in its treatment of the 'foreign' forest folk and suffers for it. One could ignore this if it were limited to one instance, arguing that the author is merely highlighting the idiocy of introducing non-native species to an ecosystem and the havoc they wreak, but the occasions are multiple and the language far too ev ...more
Saeida
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing


Set by a stream in Warwickshire (the most enchanting of English counties) it tells the story of the last gnomes in England who go on a search to find their missing brother Cloudberry. You are reduced to their tiny size as you read, so that you flinch when a small woodland creature comes crashing through the undergrowth towards you. The story is interesting enough on its own, but the descriptions of flora, fauna and faerie along with the magical illustrations by the author make it perfect.

This b
...more
Grant Stevens
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read! Love the way BB describes the gnomes' environment; I especially love his implementation of plant names and uncommon woodland terms (like spinney, coppice and copse). I also encountered two words for which I struggled to find official definitions: shillet and stickle. I'm a sucker for obscure words, and this book has them in spades (without being unreadable). The characters are charming, and the plot takes several wonderful twists and turns (as do the gnomes as they traverse that ...more
Aredhel
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is exactly what a good book for children should be! Written in such a way, that even adult readers can't bring themselves to put it aside this book presents an engrossing tale about three gnomes who set out on a quest to find their brother.

An audio version of this book is even more magnificent. The narrator skilfully wields his voice making you believe that it's not a usual man you are listening to, but different characters from the book who have suddenly come alive. It's like a good o
...more
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Denys James Watkins-Pitchford MBE was a British naturalist, children's writer, and illustrator who wrote under the pseudonym "BB" and also used D.J. Watkins-Pitchford.

Denys Watkins-Pitchford was born in Lamport, Northamptonshire on the 25th July 1905. He was the second son of the Revd. Walter Watkins-Pitchford and his wife, Edith. His elder brother, Engel, died at the age of thirteen. Denys was hi
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