The Children’s Book Review | May 29, 2018
A Chat with Borlen, aka Grump, From Liesl Shurtliff’s Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Meet a grumpy dwarf who gets tangled up in Snow White’s feud with the wicked queen.
The Children’s Book Review: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Borlen: The possibility of escape. I know all dwarves are supposed to love living underground, but it has never suited me. In fact, it makes me ill. I just really, really, really want to go to the Surface. Hey, you’re from the Surface, aren’t you? How did you get down here? Maybe I could follow you up and out. What? Only if I answer all your questions? Fine, but don’t expect me to be gracious about it.
I see you have a bag with you. Will you tell us what you keep inside of it?
Rocks and gems, mostly, for snacks while I’m searching for tunnels that might lead to the surface, plus a few bugs for my pet bat, Leaf. Don’t be frightened. Leaf is a very friendly bat. But don’t touch him! He’s only friendly to me.
Are you hungry right now? Can we fix you anything to eat? Maybe we could make you your favorite dish?
Do you have any rubies? Those are my favorite, but if you don’t have those, sapphires will do. No rubies or sapphires? What are those red things you have? They look somewhat ruby-ish. And the blue pebble-y things? Strawberries and blueberries, you say. I’ll give them a nibble. Oh, ew! Yuck! These are positively revolting! How do you humans stand such mushy, slimy, sickly sweet foods? I may be an odd dwarf, but not that odd.
Do you like to read?
Yes, I spend a good deal of time in the colony’s record room. I guess you humans would call it a “library.” (That is a strange word on the tongue. Library, library, library.) I like to read all I can find about humans and the surface. There’s not that much, though, because most dwarves aren’t at all interested in the surface or humans. Don’t be offended, they’re just afraid of you, is all. Why? No particular reason. Moving on.
Do you have a favorite song?
My mother sometimes sings me a lullaby called “The Lonely Dwarf.” It goes like this:
A thousand years he dug in the earth
Gathering crystals and gems of great worth
He had diamonds and rubies and emeralds galore
But he still felt empty, so he dug ten years more.
I like thinking about “rubies galore.” How can anyone feel empty if they have rubies galore.
Are you a rule follower or rule breaker?
I try to follow the rules, I do. There’s just one that’s too hard a rock to swallow, and that’s the one that says we’re not allowed to go the Surface. I HAVE TO GO THERE!
When was the last time you felt embarrassed?
A few years ago, while trying to play a game of Pebble, Pebble, Geode. I finally got picked to be the geode, but I was so dizzy from being down so deep in the caverns that as soon as I stood up to chase I fell over and everyone laughed at me. I was so mad, I threw rocks in their face. Mother was very angry with me. I was in time-out for months.
If you weren’t answering the questions in this interview right now, what would you be doing?
What do you think? Haven’t you learned anything about me during the course of this interview? I’d be searching for an escape route to the Surface, of course! Speaking of which, are we done here? Fine, just one more. Make it snappy.
Do you have any secrets you would like to share with us before you go?
Secrets! No. I don’t have any secrets. Dwarves don’t have any secrets at all. We just dig for our diamonds and rubies. Our beards are just beards, nothing to them. But don’t touch it. It’s a great offense to touch a dwarf’s beard. If you do I’ll…AAARGH! I SAID DON’T TOUCH MY BEARD!
Written by Liesel Shurtliff
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of Rump, comes the true story behind another unlikely hero: a grumpy dwarf who gets tangled up in Snow White’s feud with the wicked queen.
Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed “Grump”) has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind. At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .
When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He’s bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He’ll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that’s enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | May 29, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524717018
About the Author
LIESL SHURTLIFF grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and just as Snow White had seven dwarves, Liesl had seven siblings to keep her company! Before she became a writer, Liesl graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, dance, and theater. Her first three books, Rump, Jack, and Red are all New York Times bestsellers, and Rump was named to over two dozen state award lists and won an ILA Children’s Book Award. She lives in Chicago with her family, where she continues to spin fairy tales.
Visit her at LieslShurtliff.com | Follow her @LieslShurtliff
This interview with Borlen, aka Grump, a character in Liesl Shurtliff’s Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, was conducted between Liesl Shurtliff and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Fractured Fairy Tales, Liesl Shurtliff, Middle Grade Books, and Snow White Books.