Charles de Lint, Little (Grrl) Lost (Viking, 2007)
Little (Grrl) Lost is Charles de Lint's latest Newford novel. Aimed a young adult audience, Little (Grrl) Lost features T.J., who's recently transplanted to Newford from the country because of family circumstances. As a result, T.J.'s lost her best friend, and, just as importantly, her horse. She's finding it hard to adjust to life in the suburbs, and makes no bones about it. Her life takes a sudden turn for the surreal when Elizabeth tumbles into her life . . . from her baseboards.
Elizabeth is a "Little," a six inch tall person, and a very independent one by comparison to T.J. She's determined to leave her family (who lives in the walls of T.J.'s house) behind and strike out on her own, with no help from anyone. Well, we all know about best laid plans, and T.J. and Elizabeth eventually end up teamed together, since the latter's family has fled, fearing discovery, and making your own way in the world when you're half a foot tall isn't the easiest thing to do. As luck would have it, a local author who's written about Littles -- T.J.'s read her books -- is scheduled for a reading at a local book store. So the girls plan to attend the reading and maybe talk to the author, and see if what she wrote of Littles is true: they were once birds, and could return to being birds once again.
Unfortunately, things don't go smoothly, and the girls get separated, leading to a number of tense and sometimes exciting, sometimes perilous hours for both as they make their way to the author by very different routes. T.J. encounters two very different guys around her age, who have rather mixed reactions to her confession about the existence of Littles -- though she does get both a kiss and a new friend out of the whole adventure (and discovers her annoying big brother's actually kind of cool). Elizabeth gains some startling insights into her family's past, and a potential career -- or at least an interesting job for the foreseeable future. Both girls are definitely far less naïve by the book's end, which is definitely a case of all's well that ends well for both.
If the ending seems a bit pat, the most engaging part of the novel is when it flips to Elizabeth's point of view about halfway through, and readers are treated to a trip through a fantastical underground market populated by creatures of all sorts. It's here that de Lint's writing shines -- the market and its denizens fairly leap off the page, and make it a site one hopes he revisits in a future Newford novel. By comparison, though, T.J.'s point of view -- and suburban Newford -- is a bit dull and mundane, especially when we've come to enjoy and crave the magical side of Newford. Still, Little (Grrl) Lost is a fun read, and perhaps a good introduction to de Lint's work for younger readers.De Lint's Web presence can be found here