Terry Pratchett’s stories for young ‘uns

terry-pratchettAs most of you have heard, Terry Pratchett, the prolific and beloved author of the Discworld series amongst many other novels, died last week. His imagination, wit, and word-magic, have given him a loyal fanbase in the many-millions.

As it happens, just a couple of days prior to his death, I’d received his latest book to be published in the U.S.

dragons at crumbling castle cover imageDragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales, by Terry Pratchett, illustrations by Mark Beech
first published in the U.S. in 2015 by Clarion Books

It’s a zany collection of stories Pratchett wrote in the mid-1960s when he was a teenager, and a junior reporter for a local newspaper. At that time, Pratchett tells us in this book’s introduction, he “began writing stories of my own — stories for young readers that were published every week in the newspaper.”

Those stories, tinkered with just a mite by the adult Pratchett, make up the contents of this book. It is amazing to see the madcap imagination, ping-pong ball action, eccentric characters, and fanciful otherworlds that already were present in Pratchett’s mind at such a young age.

The Carpet People got their start here.

The Carpet People got their start here.

Here, in particular, are a couple of lengthy episodes of the Carpet People who appear later in a full-blown novel of their own. There are also egg-dancing contests, adventuresome tortoises, missing baby dragons, and various and sundry knights with various and sundry foibles.

dragons at crumbling castle illustration2 mark beech

Dip into this volume by reading it aloud to children ages 6 and up, being sure they are snuggled closely enough to enjoy the EXTREMELY LARGE TYPE peppered here and there in the stories, just to knock us off our feet once in a while, and Mark Beech’s oddball, Quentin-Blake-esque illustrations which add greatly to the book’s humor.

dragons at crumbling castle illustration mark beech

There are over 300 pages of lovable silliness here, sure to spread some smiles in your world, and a complete listing of Pratchett’s other works so you know where to look for a second helping, and a third.