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The Wee Free Men Hardcover – Apr 17 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Juvenile B B; British First edition (April 17 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060012366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060012366
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 503 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,696,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

When you have an author as good as Terry Pratchett writing for children, you expect that the result will be a novel of great invention, assured comic timing and a generally all-round highly readable fantasy tour de force. Readers of The Wee Free Men will not be disappointed. After winning the prestigious Carnegie Medal award for his previous story of Discworld for younger readers, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, Pratchett has followed up with another irresistibly entertaining adventure.

Miss Perspicacia Tick, a witch of some renown, is worried about a ripple in the walls of the universe--probably another world making contact. Which is not good. This errant activity is centred on some chalk country--where traditionally good witches simply do not grow well. Fortunately, Miss Tiffany Aching of Home Farm on The Chalk, nine years old, misunderstood and yearning for excitement, wants to be a witch and has just proved herself to be of great potential by whacking a big Green Monster from the river with a huge frying pan while using her annoying younger brother as bait. Miss Tick is impressed. So, after travelling to the chalky downs at once and dispensing some stop gap advice to Tiffany about holding the fort until she gets back with more help, Miss Tick is off.

Any hesitation Tiffany may have had about the seriousness of the situation expires when the Queen of the fairies kidnaps her younger brother. With the help of a talking frog, loaned by Miss Tick, and an army of thieving, warmongering, nippy, boozy wee free men called the Nac Mac Feegle (who used to work for the Queen but rebelled), Tiffany sets off rescue her kin.

There's humour at every turn, and the situations that follow are both wonderfully dramatic and preposterously unreal. Pratchett really is the master of his genre and it's difficult to imagine a more entertaining read. (Age 10 and over) --John McLay --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-Tiffany, an extremely competent nine-year-old, takes care of her irritating brother, makes good cheese on her father's farm, and knows how to keep secrets. When monsters from Fairyland invade her world and her brother disappears, Tiffany, armed only with her courage, clear-sightedness, a manual of sheep diseases, and an iron frying pan, goes off to find him. Her search leads her to a showdown with the Fairy Queen. It is clear from the beginning that Tiffany is a witch, and a mighty powerful one. The book is full of witty dialogue and a wacky cast of characters, including a toad (formerly a lawyer). Much of the humor is supplied by the alcohol-swilling, sheep-stealing pictsies, the Wee Free Men of the title, who are six-inches high and speak in a broad Scottish brogue. (The fact that readers will not understand some of the dialect won't matter, as Tiffany doesn't understand either, and it is all part of the joke.) These terrors of the fairy world are Tiffany's allies, and she becomes their temporary leader as they help her search for the Fairy Queen. Once the story moves into Fairyland it becomes more complex, with different levels of dream states (or, rather, nightmares) and reality interweaving. Tiffany's witchcraft eschews the flamboyant tricks of wizards; it is quiet, inconspicuous magic, grounded in the earth and tempered with compassion, wisdom, and justice for common folk. Not as outrageous and perhaps not as inventive as The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (HarperCollins, 2001), The Wee Free Men has a deeper, more human interest and is likely to have wider appeal. All in all, this is a funny and thought-provoking fantasy, with powerfully visual scenes and characters that remain with readers. A glorious read.
Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 6 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tiffany Aching, wise beyond her nine years, sets out to find her missing brother, Wentworth. Like all older siblings, she feels displaced by the younger boy. She feels resentment for his presence, his demands, his constantly runny nose. She's already defended Wentworth against a mysterious attacker who rose from the local river to snatch him away. Still, he mysteriously disappears and Tiffany sets off on a self-assigned quest to bring him home. He is, for all his faults, hers.
A nine-year-old girl on a quest is vulnerable. Tiffany, however, doesn't lack allies and support. The first is inexplicable, the second is indefinable. Her allies are a horde of small, blue-tattooed warriors - the Pictsies, the Nac Mac Feegle. Their traditions run to brawling, sheep-stealing and taking a "wee nip" when opportunity presents itself. They're expressive - in Pratchett's hands that means hilarious bits of dialogue, reasoning, philosophy and common sense. Above all, is their insistence on freedom. They've known a monarch, and they detest her. They also fear the power of the written word and lawyers. They're not alone in that.
Tiffany's support is in the memory of her gran. Granny Aching lived alone on the Chalk. She was quiet, but powerful. As a shepherdess, she knew the ways of sheep and nature. She could confront powerful people, achieving success with minimal effort. No curse can match the potency of a quietly spoken expression: "There'll be a reckoning". Granny's at the edge of much of Tiffany's thinking. She instills in Tiffany a sense of value: "Speak out for those with no voice". Is her memory enough to give Tiffany strength against the Pictsies' arch enemy, the "Quin"?
As usual, Pratchett delivers more than he promises.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck on June 17 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Wee Free Men are scared--the lines between the world are getting thin and the Queen that they once served is ready to break through. Only a witch can help--but the only witch available is nine-year-old Tiffany. Tiffany Aching doesn't know magic and she doesn't have a pointed hat, but she's decided she will be a witch some day. With the arrival of the Queen and the kidnapping of Tiffany's brother, some day arrives more quickly than Tiffany had anticipated.
Tiffany sets off on an adventure in a dream world--a world where your dreams can hurt you, and where other being's dreams can hurt you even more. The Queen is the mistress of dreams--and nightmares. In her kingdom, and increasingly in the mundane world that Tiffany comes from, nightmare monsters are loose. Even the wee free men cannot stand against them.
Author Terry Pratchett starts with a simple fairy tale--the poor shepherd girl facing the evil Queen, and dresses it with multiple layers of meaning. At the simplest level, WEE FREE MEN is an adventure that twists many of the established rules of the fairy tale (the witches are the goodguys, the beautiful Queen is evil, and the baron's son is purely incompetent). Dig deeper and every detail had weight. The Wee Men are funny with their Scottish accents and willingness to fight, but they are also a bit sad and more especially, a good example for all of us. Like us, they've been fooled before. Unlike most of us, they are willing to fight to prevent it from happening again.
Tiffany, armed with her frying pan and with instructions to open her eyes, then open them again, is unusually clever for a nine-year-old, but then she is the hero.
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Format: Paperback
Miss Perspicacia Tick is a full-time witch with a Gold Swimming Certificate from the Quirm College for Young Ladies. As the book opens, she has just discovered a ripple in the walls of the world - this, she suspects,is being caused by another world making contact. The point of contact appears to be in an area called the Chalk - she thinks she should go and investigate, but her elbow (which is rarely wrong) tells her there is already a witch living there.

Tiffany Aching, the book's heroine, is nine years old and lives on a farm in the Chalk. She has six older sisters, one younger brother (the permanently sticky Wentworth) and is very good with cheese. Throughout the book, it's clear she idolised her Granny Aching, who died when Tiffany was seven. Granny was a shepherdess, an expert on sheep, very fond of Jolly Sailor tobacco and - Tiffany suspects - a witch. Remembering how Granny always said it was important to speak up for those who have no voice, Tiffany has decided she wants to be a witch as well.

As it turns out, Tiffany is the witch Miss Tick's elbow sensed and has the gifts of First Sight and Second Thoughts. Miss Tick is also correct about two worlds colliding - Fairyland, ruled by the Queen, is running into the Discworld. Fairyland is where dreams come true, which isn't quite as pleasant as you might think - nightmares, after all, also count as dreams. Worse yet, after having "rescued" Wentworth from Jenny Green-Teeth, thanks to an expertly delivered frying-pan to the face, Wentworth is kidnapped by the Queen. Tiffany feels it's up to herto rescue him and bring him home.

The stars of the book, however, are the Wee Free Men. Also known as the Nac Mac Feegle, they were thrown out of Fairyland for being drunk, disorderly and rebelloius.
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