Reviewed by Tricia Shaw
Terry Pratchett’s latest children’s book is a collection of short stories which he wrote when he was just starting out on his writing career, aged 17. They were first published in the “Children’s Circle” section of the Bucks Free Press between 1965 and 1973 but they have been rescued from a dusty corner and are once again entertaining young and old alike.
I was thrilled when I received the book and the children were immediately drawn to the bright and appealing dust jacket; they were intrigued by the dragon taking a bath. We couldn’t wait to tuck in.
Having only read his stories from the Discworld series I was unsure what to expect but one thing of which I was certain was that it would be a joy to read. Assuming something more akin to the Discworld fantasy novels I found it a little difficult to get started but once we had read the first chapter we couldn’t wait to find out what else lay in store for us. These stories are rather different from Discworld but they are just as intriguing and well written. Pratchett has a marvellous way with words; his choice of language, wordplay and puns enable the reader to conjure up amazing images as the events unfold in the story. These imaginative stories really appeal to the inquisitive mind – who hasn’t wondered about what lives on the specks of dust floating in the air?
Such fantastic and funny stories for both children and adults I was overjoyed that this collection kept my 6 year old entertained throughout the entire 45 minute train journeys to and from London. He was enthralled by Mark Beech’s wonderful drawings as much as the stories themselves. As we approached our station and I put the book away I could tell that he was desperate for the next instalment. My 10 year old squirreled herself away to read the book as soon as she had the opportunity; all I heard from her were little laughs and squeals of amusement.
Printed with double lined spacing, the frequent use of different fonts and formatting adds to the visual interest provided by the numerous illustrations which are dotted around the entire book. The footnotes add a comical extra for the older reader.
There are 14 different stories in all, my favourites of which are about the Carpet People followed closely by the time-travelling bus. From dragons and wizards to monsters and talking animals there really is something in each story to appeal to everyone.
RRP: £12.99 (hardback), £6.99 (paperback)
Available to buy from Amazon here.