Gnome Home

by Christina Nellemann on February 7th, 2011. 16 Comments
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When I was six years old, one of my Christmas presents was the book, Gnomes, by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet. Even at such a young age, I was charmed so much by the little nocturnal creatures and their tiny  homes, that I was bound and determined to also live in one. The book was so well written and so beautifully illustrated, it was as if Huygen and Poortvliet had been studying the little people for decades.

Written with a naturalist’s hand, Gnomes is a guide to the life of the little woodland and garden creatures. It covers everything from courtship and marriage, children, food gathering, handicrafts, and the building and care of the gnome’s tiny underground house.

According to the book, the male gnome begins to build his little house about 15-20 years before his marriage (gnomes can live up to 400 years), and meticulously takes into consideration the location and the direction that the house will face. Secret underground tunnels, polecat traps and escape routes are built into the home’s infrastructure as well as a chimney for the Large Stove, a boot room which houses the Watch-Cricket, and an elegant bathroom.

As a craftsman, the gnome’s artistic flair can be seen in the beautiful carvings on the doors, the handmade furniture, and even the colorful toilet. His wife and children also take pride in their tiny home as they enjoy their nightly chores, sleep in cozy alcoves built into the home’s walls and play with their pet field mice.

The book has recently been printed again for its 30th anniversary and the gnomes’ natural building techniques, knowledge of sustainability and natural energy, and kindness to animals will hopefully be enjoyed by today’s generation.

“To my amazement I have heard that there are people who have never seen a gnome. I can’t help pitying these people. I am certain there must be something wrong with their eyesight.”

~ Axel Munthe, Swedish psychiatrist, 1857-1949

Illustrations courtesy of the book Gnomes (which I still have after 30 years).

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

16 Responses to “Gnome Home”

  1. Ali says:

    Christine! I got this as a Christmas present when I was seven, and I think I memorized everything in it. I loved reading about the other creatures, too; the elves, ogres, goblins…what a sweet reminder of an amazing book <3

  2. robin yates says:

    of course there are Gnomes everywhere, they are called “Dwende” in the Philippines where I now live.They can be heard late at night whispering between themselves. If you believe in Gnomes the world is a better place !

  3. My favorite was about a little squirrel named Miss Suzy, she lived in a tree house, spent a short time in a doll house. They just reprinted this one too.

  4. Laura says:

    I have loved this book since childhood as well-it is still inspiring me. I also had Miss Suzy, and enjoy sharing these books with my 2 boys!

  5. Margaret says:

    My parents had a copy of this book before I was even born so I saw it my whole life. Then Nickelodeon made a little cartoon series based on the drawings and I watched that till it was canceled. The housing details always amazed me.

  6. Drue says:

    Hey! People! Wake up!

    Everyone knows gnomes live in hotels now. I’m guessing they came into some money.

  7. Stan says:

    I had a series of books like this when I was a kid, don’t know if they were the same but they were stories that had diagrams like this mixed in. I always wanted to find their little houses, I was a boy so I wanted to dig them up to handle their stuff if not steal it.

  8. Carol says:

    I totally have that book too! I got it when I was very young as well! I absolutely loved it and the idea of gnomes and they way they lived. I am pretty sure I have it still, packed in a box in my garage! I am going to have to dig it up now to look at again!

  9. Lauren says:

    Oh, yes, this book!! Thank you for the walk down memory lane! Maybe this is where my obsession began?

  10. cj says:

    Oh my! I had completely forgotten yet when I saw the photos, it was as if I had read it yesterday. It would be interesting to look through again. Details now have meaning. For instance, Thor’s raven depicted on the cabinet. Thanks for the lovely memory.

  11. Christina says:

    How wonderful that this book became a childhood favorite of so many! :-) To all you readers out there, do any of you remember a book with black and white illustrations of some small creatures and animals that lived under mushrooms? I think it was a Romeo and Juliet type of story. I have been looking for it for years. As a child, I loved it, and I think that’s where my love of cob houses came from.

  12. Ninette says:

    this is so amazing! did`nt know, this book was published in usa- i live in germany and loved the drawings and the nice details about the living of the gnomes. i would love to have this again ? mine ist gone- too much love from three children destroyed it.

  13. Billi Vickery says:

    I still have this book! It was a gift from my Grandmother and I still adore it! I have moved it from place to place with me, even through the teasing of a now ex-husband, who was a “real carpenter”. This book began my love of natural homes and the sense that I belonged deep in the woods and mountains. At almost 50, I am finally getting there, with this book!

  14. Carol Bussey says:

    I’ve seen The Book of Gnomes, but never bought a copy. The pictures remind me of another book, “The Borrowers,” by Mary Norton, illustrated by Michael Hague. Tiny human beings living under the floorboards of an English country house furnish their abode with purloined items from the big house: for example, blotting paper for rugs, postage stamps for pictures on the walls.

  15. If you love the world of gnomes. Please check out my blog and introduce yourself to Phillip Tuber of Twistedoak! You may listen to an audio sample of my book there. It is Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost.
    Please enjoy and hope you will buy the book!

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