I read this some time in the 1980s in the UK in a school library for 11-and-unders. (But that might not mean much. They had Assassins of Gor as well!) I remember it as being rather strange, and darker than this kind of book really ought to be...

There's a valley completely surrounded by inaccessible mountains. A village of peculiar, peaceful little people lives there --- possibly actual little people; my memory says they're not quite human. They're kinda conservative and nervous of anything that's different. There's a small group of misfits, rule-breakers and boat-rockers, and after some kind of inciting incident the village votes to exile them to live somewhere else in the valley.

Our heroine is exiled with them. She's extremely indignant about this, because she's as conservative as anyone else, but she's swept up in the witch-hunt too because she painted her door red, which the others don't like.

The misfits set up somewhere else in the valley, but various strange things start happening (I forget the details here) and quite suddenly our heroine finds herself kidnapped by armed soldiers and taken through tunnels to the other side of the mountains. There she sees that it's a vast inhospitable desert with an huge army camped on it. They're trying to invade the green land between the mountains.

Unfortunately I don't remember much else about it. I vaguely recall that the band of misfits manage to do something about the invaders, but I don't know whether they actually repel them or negotiate some kind of treaty.

Does this ring any bells with anyone?

  • Possibly The Gammage Cup (previously asked about here and here).
    – jwodder
    Aug 23 at 3:07

2 Answers 2


I'm pretty sure you are thinking of The Gammage Cup, by Carol Kendall (1959). Here is an excerpt from a review http://carolsnotebook.com/2010/05/05/the-gammage-cup-by-carol-kendall/

The Minnipins are a small people, sedate, somber and conforming.

They live securely in an isolated mountain valley and never question the authority of the Periods, the leading families. There are a few rebels, though, referred to as “Them” – Curley Green a painter, Walter the Earl who digs for old manuscripts and treasures, and Gummy a poet. A couple of other folks, Muggles the museum curator and Mingy the treasurer, not really “Them” but not really standard Minnipins either join “Them” in challenging the wisdom of the Periods. The five are outlawed, forced to leave the town and establish a new home on the mountains. There they find the Minnipins’ ancient enemies, the Mushrooms, are preparing to attack the village. Of course, the outlaws are going to save the day, but how?

There’s a fantasy element here. Danger and adventure, spears flying and swords gleaming when the enemy is near, and jokes for the reader to catch, but it’s the characters that I love. One simple act, like painting the door of you home red instead of the standard green or wearing an orange sash or cloak, caused the neighbors to look at them askance. In the village, different is not acceptable.

  • Yes --- this is it! Thanks very much! Aug 23 at 18:12

I have never read The Gammage Cup by Carol `Kendal, 1959, but your plot summary reminds of the summary of The Gammage Cup on page 88 of An Atlas of Fantasy, J. B. Post, 1973.

The Gammage Cup is a children's book by Carol Kendall. It was first published in 1959 in the United Kingdom as The Minnipins and in the United States as The Gammage Cup. It was later republished by Scholastic in November 1991 and by Harcourt in 2000. It tells the story of a race of little people called the Minnipins who, despite inner divisions, must unite to defend their village and the valley in which they live against an evil race of humanoid creatures called the Mushrooms or Hairless Ones. The sequel, The Whisper of Glocken, was published in 1965.


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