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...
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.