Saturday, 12 April 2008

Two reviews

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett, has been sitting on my tbr pile for absolutely ages but suddenly, what with reading his Tiffany Aching series, it felt like the right time to read it. Funny how that happens sometimes.

Eta: I'm adding this next book to my list of books read for Carl's Once Upon a Time II challenge.



Maurice the cat, his band of intelligent rats, and 'the stupid-looking kid', Keith, who plays a pipe, have arrived at the town of Bad Blintz, in Ubberwald, on the Discworld. They've been roaming the countryside running a scam whereby they encourage a town to think it has a plague of rats by spreading their own rats around a bit. The boy gets paid to get rid of said plague, that doesn't exist, and they then move on to the next town. But Bad Blintz is different. The town has a nasty feel to it. There are plenty of rat tunnels, evidence of other rats in residence, but not one rat to be seen. Anywhere. And, if that's the case, why does the town need its own ratcatchers? Keith comes across Malicia, the mayor's daughter, who thinks everything is a story and has a wicked tongue. The two of them, plus the rats and a reluctant Maurice, set about solving the mystery of what's going on in this town. They soon discover the meaning of the word 'evil' and that it doesn't have just the one source in this particular town...

This book is aimed at children aged 9 to 12 but I must admit I found it a complex, thought provoking, novel with quite a few points to make. I suppose it's a book that can be read on different levels though, which is fine. Pratchett's clever humour is, as always, very much to the fore. The intelligent rats for instance are all named after things you might find on tins of food. Thus you have Sardines, Peaches, Hamnpork, Dangerous Beans, 'Selby' (that one made me think) and 'Darktan' (so did that one until I remembered shoe polish) and so on. There's quite an air of suspense and menace about this book too, more than I remember in other Pratchett novels. Possibly this is enhanced by the amount of the story that takes place underground in dark rat tunnels but also there are some quite nasty goings on here and the author doesn't pull any punches. I liked this book a lot and am not sure why I haven't read it before. I think I thought it was perhaps an insubstantial read, a bit fluffy maybe. Pratchett? Fluffy? How stupid can you possibly be...

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It comes to something when you're reduced to filching library books off your grandaughter! But when we went to pick her up on Monday this was the book she'd just finished and, coincidently, it's exactly the book I've been wanting to read for a few weeks. Anyway, she happily let me read it before it went back and we had a lot of fun while she was here because she asked me several times a day where I was in the book and then wanted to tell me what was going to happen next. She hasn't quite grasped the concept of 'spoiling' a book for someone yet. ;-)



Like the two previous 'Aventure' books by Enid Blyton I reviewed here, The Island of Adventure is about Jack and Lucy-Ann (brother and sister) and Philip and Dinah (also brother and sister). In fact this is the very first book where they meet and become friends. It happens when Jack meets Philip at summer school; Lucy-Ann is there as well as her and Jack are orphans and she has nowhere else to go. The three become friends and when they eventually leave they all end up at 'Craggy Tops', the home of Philip and Dinah's reclusive uncle. The house is on a cliff top overlooking the sea and there's an island where it appears there are secret goings on. The children meet Bill Smugs who is camping out in an old shack nearby and they assume he has something to do with the weird 'goings on'. Naturally, they have to investigate; naturally, they get into trouble and, naturally, a full blown adventure ensues.

Not hard to see why my grandaughter liked this one so much. It's full of fun and suspense and, for someone my age, nostalgia. I'm a bit of a sucker for 'lost in caves' and 'secret tunnel' sort of books and this is a good'un. Great fun, and one I don't think I'd previously read. Only one complaint - I really hate this cover! Anyway, I've now read the first three of the eight in this series and plan to read the rest over the next few months.

13 comments:

DesLily said...

you've turned into a reading frenzie !! lol.. I hadn't heard of either of these books, I'll take the time to check them out a bit more...

Juliet said...

This was my favourite in the Adventure series. My teacher read it in instalments ever afternoon when I was eight, and then I read it about six times myself!

My top-favourite Enid Blyton of all time, though, is now quite hard to come by. It was a one-off (ie not in any series) called The Secret Island, about some children who run away from their nasty step-parents and hide on an island where they build a house out of willow branches and smuggle a cow and some hens across by boat so they can live off milk and eggs. If you ever get the chance to steal a copy from some young person's bookshelves, you really must. I know you'd love it!

Cath said...

Hi Pat. No reading frenzy here. :-) They're just two shortish, easy reads that I read fairly quickly. Am stuck now because I just started a book that I really can't get into so don't want to pick it up.

Pat, do you think I should put Maurice and his Amazing Educated Rodents up on Carl's review site? It's not on my list for the challenge but it is fantasy/folklore/fairy tale or *something*. I'm not sure if you're only supposed to link to your actual list of books or whether extra books can be put up.

Juliet, I haven't actually heard of The Secret Island but I recently gave my grandaughter an omnibus of three or four stand-alone Blyton books so I'll ask her if it's in that. My own favourite stand-alone book by her is The Treasure Seekers which is very easy to come by so I have a copy of that and it's a hardback of the original, which is nice.

DesLily said...

Absolutely put it on the review list Cath! The one thing I found with Carl's challenge is that because it is 3 months long most people put up many more reviews than just the 5. I just put up number 6 and plan to put any fantasy book I read between now and the end of the challenge on the review list! I think that (easily) you will find that you've done the challenge twice! lol

Nymeth said...

"This book is aimed at children aged 9 to 12 but I must admit I found it a complex, thought provoking, novel with quite a few points to make. I suppose it's a book that can be read on different levels though, which is fine."

Yup, I wholeheartedly agree. I was surprised that this one was so dark - I actually think it's one of his darkest books. I'm glad you enjoyed it! This is one of my favourite Terry Pratchett books, which is the same as saying it's one of my favourite books period.

Cath said...

Thanks, Pat, I've done that and listed it as an *extra* book. Thanks for your help.

Nymeth: I was so impressed with this book and it certainly goes down as one of my favourite Discworld novels now. I plan to reread it at some stage because I think it might be necessary in order to get everything Terry was trying to say. Utterly brilliant, *without* being preachy and but also maintaining his wonderful humour. And I just love Maurice!

Carl V. said...

I'm glad you did put it up at the review site. I don't hold folks to their lists. I want whatever a person reads that they feel fits in the challenge parameters to be on the review site as that gives all of us a chance to see books that we might not know about otherwise. I hadn't heard of this Pratchett book but it looks and sounds very entertaining. Thanks for posting!

Cath said...

Thanks for clarifying that, Carl. I appreciate it as there are times when I'm pretty clueless!

StuckInABook said...

How nice that you can share books with a granddaughter!
I remember the fun I had when Mum and I started reading The Three Investigators series alongside each other.

Cath said...

Hi Simon. It's so nice that our grandaughter is now old enough (almost 8) and good enough at reading to be reading some of the same books as the rest of the family. And we all purposely read a few younger children's books with her to encourage her and make it more fun. Poor girl never really stood a chance of being a non-reader! LOL.

Celular said...
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Tara said...

I wanted you to know that I ordered The Wind in the Willows from Amazon US. The publisher is listed as Palazzo and the ISBN is different but it is a brand new edition and the cover is exactly the same as yours. It was cheaper than ordering from the UK so I am hopeful it is just like yours. I cannot wait!

Cath said...

I'm sure you will love your new Wind in the Willows when it arrives, Tara. I pick it up practically every day and browse through and plan to reread the story quite soon.