A flea with aspirations to heroism joins forces with a girl determined to defeat a giant.
Folk- and fairy-tale elements are reworked and deftly woven together in this likable fable about courage, size, gallantry and revenge. Hercufleas, as he names himself, is born into a fleamily of extraordinary fleas endowed by an alchemist with superior strength and talent. They are housed in Mr. Stickler’s stovepipe hat and maintain the sly entrepreneur’s library of catalogs featuring heroes for hire. Greta, a white girl whose parents and neighbors have been guzzled by the dreadful enormous Yuk, comes to Stickler with her town’s last gold. But nothing for Greta, nor for Hercufleas, goes according to any plan. While Stickler’s monsters are out to get Greta, the dangerous botanical monsters of the “woodn’t” separate Hercufleas from his family. It’s only when a truly powerful weapon is offered to the small hero that he begins to realize his own capacity for brave decision-making. Gayton’s narrative is nicely and convincingly detailed, both in the matter of monsters, villains, and minor magics, and in the matter of being incredibly small.
Twists and turns, reversals, and chance meetings prove several times over that hope and determination are the most reliable weapons—and armor—no matter the size or situation of the hero. (Fantasy. 8-12)