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Friday, November 21, 2014

Best YA Novel to reference leprechauns since the Artemis Fowl Series!

Pratchett, Terry  (2011)  The Wee Free Men:  The Beginning.  New York:  Harper

 
In the beginning of The Wee Free Men, Tiffany, who wants to be a witch, goes to the fair and finds a booth where a woman agrees to tell her some things about becoming a witch.  At the end of the conversation, this exchange occurs:
"Are you listening?"
"yes," said Tiffany.
"Good.  Now,.. if you trust in yourself..."
"Yes?"
"...and believe in your dreams."
"Yes?"
"...and follow your star..."
"Yes?"
 "You'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working  and learning things and weren't so lazy.  Good-bye."  (p.40)
 
You can see the comic set-up in that exchange.  Pratchett knows how to write an engaging story, but also one with funny moments to diffuse the tension.  Anyway, so here is the story:   Tiffany wants to become a witch (mostly because her Grandma sort of was a witch and helped people).  So as she is working on that she finds out that she is being guarded, assisted, and sometimes saved from monsters by a band of six-inch tall, head-butting, hard-drinking, thieving, Wee Free Men.  They are also fiercely loyal, protective, remarkably strong, and seemingly indestructible.  As Tiffany takes on the Queen of the Fairies and a weird, shapeless, bodiless evil creature, the wee free men prove to be invaluable allies.
 
And along the way we get humor, excitement, tension, and sometimes profundity.  At one point, one of the wee free men, Rob Anybody (they are not very good at coming up with names) says, "Ah, weel, what's magic, eh?  Just wavin' a stick and sayin' a few magic words.  An' what's so clever about that, eh?  But lookin' at things, really lookin' at 'em, and then workin' 'em out, now that's a real skill."  (p. 146)  There is truth in that.
 
So it is a fun ride, and because it is a big book, it might be just the thing to keep a strong 8th grade or older reader happy for a while.  And you'd like it too. 

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