The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
The original plan for my reading week was to get tons of reading done. It didn’t happen. Instead I went to look at penguins, wander around museums, cheer on the Habs and tried to sleep. This was the only book I finished, though I did get fairly far in my next read.
I was raised on fairy tales, specifically Irish fairy tales, where the fairies are out to get you. It’s not that they’re evil, per say, but they want what they want and they don’t have the same understanding of consequences. They don’t understand that humans need their friends and family, and that being tossed out of fairyland 100 years after you were taken, does you absolutely no favours. I always knew that if the fairies took me then I’d better not eat a thing they offered me, unless they could offer me salt, and having some iron on your person is always helpful. Also, (though not as relevant to this book) be kind to people in general, and not just strangers. The people you know really well are more likely to be the ones who run into Fairyland to save you (usually on a horse that only ate clover, or was never shoed, or some other crazy detail) so maybe you should be kind to them so that they won’t abandon you.
Pratchett wrote the Tiffany Achung books for younger readers who might also like the magic and weirdness of Discworld. I have the incredibly bad habit so just reading whatever book in a series I can get my hand on, so I’ve already read A Hat Full of Sky, which I thought was just alright. I enjoyed this book far more because I got to understand Tiffany. However, I do love Pratchett’s footnotes, and once again there was only one.
She’s been the youngest child in her family for close to nine years, and then all of a sudden she has a baby brother, Wentworth, who she has to take care of all of the time. She’s intensely practical so when she notices that there’s a Jenny Green-Teeth with eyes as big as soup plates ( the kind that are eight inches across) in her river, she tempts it with her brother and then clobbers it with an iron frying pan. This causes the Wee Free Men , the toughest, tiniest fairies who love to drink and fight, to realize that she’s a hag or witch, and ask her for her help. The Queen of Fairies is on her way and she will try to enslave them once again. As well, she has already captured some humans who might want to escape her version of happiness. Oh, and she just kidnapped Wentworth.
This novel is funny and sweet and possibly a bit scary for younger readers. Like a lot of Pratchett’s works there are a few morals including: question conventional wisdom, don’t assume that people you don’t understand are evil and my personal favourite.
'Now… If you trust in yourself…’
‘… and believe in your dreams…”
‘… and follow your star…’
‘… you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye’
Good advice for all of us.