Dragons at Crumbling Castle
By Terry Pratchett, published 2014
“To the Carpet people, the Carpet was bigger than a forest,… full of cities, towns, small villages, castles, and all sorts of tiny animals in the really thick parts that weren’t swept often…In the village of the Fallen Matchstick, the Carpet-dwellers were preparing to leave.”
Here’s a glorious children’s book to discover…short stories written by renowned author Terry Pratchett when he was a teenager! What a great way to get stories at a kid’s level. The stories are totally silly, sometimes pointless, and always engaging, just as you would expect from a teenage author. However, they have all the clever word play and satire that Pratchett in his adult years honed to award-winning skill.
A children’s book with short, discrete stories is also a lovely way to encourage reading bigger books without a feeling of overwhelm. This could be a great children’s book for reading aloud at bedtime for the 8 or 9 year olds, provided you explain the contexts as needed. By age 10, children can probably read this book independently. However, some of the jokes may go over the heads of young readers, (i.e., under 11). Many of the stories are a parody of something either contemporary or historical. For example, the Carpet Dwellers story is a clever parody of crossing the USA in covered wagons, with all the usual difficulties. However, in Pratchett’s hands, it is all quite humorous and exaggerated.
Alas, Terry Pratchett died this year (2015), but luckily, he had been encouraged to publish this, one of his last children’s book, containing the first stories he ever wrote. I think it’s a wonderful way to introduce young readers to his peculiar sense of humor. The only children’s book I read and reviewed by Pratchett is The Wee Free Men. I haven’t ever gotten absorbed in his fantasy series, DiscWorld. They are a bit too…. edgy? not quite dark, but something else that keeps me from enjoying them. I did enjoy Dodger, but it’s for high school and up, beyond this website.
Meanwhile, this new children’s book satisfies my desire for more Pratchett humor. I would say that the age range is perfect for 10 to 12 to get the most out of the book, and suitable for 8 and up with adult help.