by Terry Pratchett
Publication Date: August 25, 2016
Genre: Children's Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Do you believe in magic?
Can you imagine a war between wizards, a rebellious ant called 4179003, or a time-travelling television?
Can you imagine that poor old Mr Swimble could see a mysterious vacuum cleaner in the morning, and make cheese sandwiches and yellow elephants magically appear by the afternoon?
Welcome to the wonderful world of Sir Terry Pratchett, and fourteen fantastically funny tales from the master storyteller. Bursting from these pages are food fights, pirates, bouncing rabbits and magical pigeons.
And a witch riding a vacuum cleaner, of course.
Long before Terry Pratchett became Terry Pratchett! he was a journalist for the Buck’s Free Press, writing short stories for their Children’s Circle. This is a collection of some of those short stories, enhanced with illustrations by Mark Beech. It also includes commentary after each story by a Suzanne Bridson, though I’d not include that as an enhancement.
I found the stories charming in a Roald Dahl way, except I suspect Pratchett of imagination, whereas I sort of suspect Dahl of LSD abuse. They were funny, witty and there are hidden references to LOTR, C.S. Lewis’ work, and hilarious homages to the Wild West, including Maverick. As I read, I kept thinking my nieces would find these fun, if I could get them to just try a story or two (they’re reaching that age when the tastes of all adults tank and can’t be trusted), and I must bring the collection to the attention of my sister-in-law who insists that teaching small children is fun.
The commentary was meh and in my opinion, skippable. Bridson is, I’m assuming, aiming it at the stories’ audiences, and it’s obviously meant to steer them towards the full novels. The comparisons she points out are the obvious ones, and she ignores almost all of the careful nuances and subtle wordplay that I appreciated most.
My edition is the slipcased one shown and it’s beautiful. Inside I found it included a full colour illustration from Mark Beech, on postcard sized stock, slipped between the pages, a pleasant bonus.