Because SHRUNK! is about tiny things, I’ve done a fair bit of thinking about size. I’ve always been obsessed with miniatures, entranced by someone’s ability to make something big – small. In schools, I find the size issue really grabs children. They love the tiny copy of SHRUNK., they all want to shrink each other, their best friends, their worst enemies, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Superman, and in one case, Mum. They enjoy imagining everything through. How would you reach a door handle? Avoid a cat? Find food?
It’s a lot of fun.
I haven’t yet met a child who doesn’t revel in the very small – it can be tractors and farm animals, it doesn’t have to be dolls – and I like to think that given the time and the skill, most adults would re-create their own homes in miniature, right down to the dead woodlice behind the washing machine. I think it’s what architects are doing when they design things – really, they’d like to build a whole city – in miniature.
Here is my grandmother’s doll’s house – she was born in 1885, so it must have been made at least a hundred years ago. Some of the objects remain, but I can’t find them because I think they’re muddled up with the Sylvanians. So that proves that people liked tiny things a long time ago. Perhaps Swift knew that when he wrote Gulliver, and Lewis Carroll with Alice, perhaps they’d both played with doll’s houses when they were little.
Below is a selection of the miniature things in our house. Some of them – are quite old. For example, the wine bottle on the right must have been given to me at least 45 years ago. I remember it full of pale yellow liquid (possibly wine) now it has a thick layer of treacly stuff at the bottom, but the cork’s still in place. I think my parents brought it back from France. Next to it the Guinness bottle that came back from Ireland about 20 years ago, and and the bottom, centrally, the hammer that I bought in Germany in 1999. My daughter gave me the Sylvanian Lunchbox, as she felt my need was greater than hers, and a friend made the art set, and the tiny boat automata. SHRUNK and the Key came from Hot Key Books.