Liz, Ben and writer Michelle Law go on a surprisingly dark ride in Terry Pratchett’s skewed take on the Pied Piper, 2001’s Discworld for Younger Readers book, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.
Everyone knows that the best way to get rid of rats is to pay the Piper – even Maurice, and he’s a talking cat. So when he met a Clan of similarly smart talking rats, all he needed was a stupid-looking kid who could play and he had the makings of the perfect con… At least, until the rats (and the kid) decide that what they’re doing is unethical. Maurice convinces them to pull one last scam in a tiny Überwald town, but all is not well in Bad Blintz: the mayor’s daughter immediately sees there’s something odd about Maurice and the kid, and the town is convinced they already have a plague of rats – but the Clan can’t find a single one…
After two trilogies of children’s books set in our own world, and before he invented Tiffany Aching, Pratchett tried getting kids into the Discworld with a story of talking animals, plucky kids and unspeakable evil. The Amazing Maurice explores some weighty ethics, punctures the safety of Enid Blyton, questions the lessons taught by the Brothers Grim, and goes to some very dark places, metaphorically and literally. All born out of a footnote joke he wrote for Reaper Man a decade before!
Is this really a children’s book? Would you let your kids read it? Is it a terrible mistake, or is it maybe the greatest book Pratchett ever wrote? And most importantly: what’s your rat name? Use the hashtag #Pratchat33 on social media to join the conversation!
Guest Michelle Law is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor based in Sydney. Her work includes the 2017 smash hit play Single Asian Female, the SBS TV series Homecoming Queens and contributed to numerous magazines and books. Michelle’s next play will be Miss Peony for Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre, and she has a story in the anthology After Australia from Affirm Press. You can find out more about Michelle at her web site, michelle-law.com, and follow her on Twitter at @ms_michellelaw.
Next month we complete our hat-trick of Pratchetts for younger readers by returning to the English town of Blackbury to catch up with Johnny Maxwell in 1993’s Johnny and the Dead. We’ll be joined by children’s author Oliver Phommovanh! Get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat34 by July 21st 2020.
You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.