Terry Pratchett is one of the most imaginative authors around today, and in The Wee Free Men he lives up to his reputation. Tiffany Aching is a young witch wanna-be who must rescue her brother from the evil Queen of the Elves who attempts to rule through the use of dreams. The Wee Free Men are Pictsies (pixies, get it?) in the manner of traditional folklore. We are not talking Tinkerbell's Disney incarnation or saccharine Victorian fairies. The Pictsies, also know as the Nac Mac Feegles, are rowdy, mischievous, and very funny. They aid Tiffany in fighting the Queen and bringing her brother back. The plot moves fast and is full of the jokes, puns, and twists and turns one expects from Terry Pratchett. Despite the book being set sometime in the pre-Industrial Revolution past, Pratchett succeeds in making jibes at our modern world's sensibilities. That's one of the things I most enjoy about Pratchett: he sees modern life as it really is and is able to cut through much contemporary psychobabble with just a few words. If you like Terry Pratchett's other novels, you'll like The Wee Free Men. If he's not your cup of tea, then skip it.
One of the things I appreciated most was Tiffany herself. Though only nine years old, she is smart, capable, and resourceful, and Pratchett apparently did not find it necessary to cast her as a 21st century women's studies graduate to make her so. It is possible to be all those things without being a devotee of Gloria Steinem, and Tiffany is an excellent example of that. She just does what needs to be done~whether beating off razor-teethed German shepherds with a frying pan or thinking her way out of having to marry one of the Nac Mac Feelges~without any thought of furthering the Cause of Women's Rights Everywhere. I do get so weary of young adult fiction featuring heroines set in ages past with modern feminist mindsets.
I listened to the HarperAudio version read by Stephen Briggs. He did a great job with the accents, especially of the Wee Free Men, though I found myself wishing from time to time that he'd go a little slower. The dialect was a little difficult to follow without being able to see it.
The second book I'm reviewing is~surprise!~Gooseberry Patch's Christmas Book 13. It was in the "what's new" section of my local library, so I brought it home for a perusal. This is the first GP Christmas book I've looked at, so I can't compare it the the rest, but I can say that it's a lovely book full of beautiful pictures, a treat to look through on a gray, rainy afternoon. It's full of typical GP recipes, several of which I hope to try. There are also page after page of craft and decorating ideas. Some I liked; some I didn't. Some were easy; some weren't. I did find rather a lot of instructions that reminded me of my mother-in-law's recipe for roast duck: "Find a duck. Roast until done." Some of the ideas would be difficult to pull off without some prior experience in sewing and other crafts or at least the gumption to finagle things until they worked. The ability to picture the individual steps in your mind would be invaluable here. There were crafts and decorations included for many different styles and tastes. All in all, I spent an enjoyable hour looking through Christmas Book 13 and plan to spend more time with it before it is due back at the library.
I am nearing the finish line on The Wind in the Willows. Expect me to wax rhapsodic about it in the near future!