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Courtesy of Teens Read Too
on October 30, 2008
I have always been told that, as a fan of fantasy and humor, I needed to read Terry Pratchett. And after reading THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS, I now understand what everyone was talking about. Pratchett's style is simultaneously witty, entertaining, and incisive; he succeeds in this children's book in saying more about society than most adult books ever manage, and he does so while making you laugh out loud.
Set in an obscure corner of Discworld, the fantasy world in which Pratchett has written numerous other books for adults, a cat named Maurice discovers suddenly the ability to talk--and not just to talk, but to think and to reason. Maurice believes himself to be the only animal afflicted with this talent, until he discovers a group of rats living in the city dump who have also miraculously achieved the ability of speech and thought. As Maurice is emphatic about his promise to never eat anything that can talk, he and the talking rats get along rather well. Soon, along with the help of an orphan boy named Keith who was raised by a musician's guild, Maurice sets upon a scheme to make some easy money, and the rats go along in their belief that they may someday find a place where they will be free to live as talking rats without the fear of being hunted by humans.
Maurice's plan is simple. If the rats will go and infest a town, wreaking havoc for the space of a few days, the town leaders will be sure to call a rat piper to remove the rats from the town. Then it's Keith's job to show up, pipe the rats away, and receive a generous fee for his troubles, one that the rats and Maurice will share. Keith, Maurice, and the rats go like this from town to town...until they reach the town of Bad Blintz, and everything stops working as planned.
The story is populated by humorous characters that you can't help but take seriously. Maurice's sly cunning is undermined by the fact that he meticulously questions any rat he comes across before eating it, in order to keep up his first promise to the talking rats. The rats themselves are amusing individuals, self-named after the first things they could read in that city dump where they originated, so that the story is populated by creatures who go by Hamnpork, Darktan, Sardines, and Dangerous Beans. But under these hilarious names, they are at heart a people trying to figure out their own origins and explain the things they don't yet understand about their sudden ability to speak, and what that means for their future.
I would recommend this book to anyone who's not afraid to laugh, and anyone who's not afraid to think hard about the ramifications of being a person--or rat, or cat--capable of speech, thought, and reason.
Reviewed by: Candace Cunard