Today is Tell a Fairy Tale Day – how appropriate for a review of and giveaway for a collection of fun tales like these!
I’ve read every novel by bestselling, multi-award-winning, and much beloved fantasy author Terry Pratchett that has been published in the U.S. for adults, young adults, or for children. You might call me a fan if you’re into understatements. All of his novels are amazing and highly addictive, which is probably why he’s sold about 85 million copies. Yep, they’re that good. So when the publisher told me about a new children’s volume of short stories being published, I jumped up and down with glee. You see, based on some news about his health a few years ago, I was afraid we had seen the last novel from Mr. Pratchett. I’m delighted that I’ve been proved wrong.
Dragons at Crumbling Castle: and Other Tales is designed for young readers. It first appeared as a series of short stories published in a local English newspaper when the author was a young newspaper reporter. In the author’s note, he says, “…that naïve young lad on the motorbike and the grown-up me with my black hat and beard are the same person – and all we both ever wanted to do was write for people who are old enough to understand. And to imagine…” And imagine is what Terry Pratchett excelled at, even as a naïve young lad.
There are 14 stories in this fun, wonderfully illustratated collection and, as you’ll see below, they run the gamut of fantasy and fun:
Dragons at Crumbling Castle – A tale about dragons, castles, and cross-species misunderstandings, featuring a motley crew of kings, wizards, knights and a young sensible boy named Ralph.
Hercules the Tortoise – A tale about a fearless pet tortoise who wants nothing more than to explore the outside springtime world, and ends up becoming a hero.
The Great Speck – A tale about a speck of dust with two countries on it along with an astronomer, a king or two, their many subjects, and the usual flora and fauna. It also contains a flying machine to explore the great unknown, a.k.a. another speck floating nearby, and that’s when all the trouble begins.
“Now, Great Speck had been at peace for – oh, at least half an hour, but that is not to say that either country would be above pulling a fast one on the other if it got the chance.”
Hunt the Snorry – A tale about a great expedition launched by a little-game hunter to find the mysterious Snorry in the tapioca forests of the Upper Amazon.
Tales of the Carpet People – A tale about people who live in the carpet, a vast world to them. Because their carpet world is fraying at the edges, reluctantly they set off to find a new place to live in the carpet only to find dangers they could not have imagined, including an evil red-eyed Snarg army. Please note: This tale and the one below about the carpet people later became a children’s novel.
Dok the Caveman – A tale about a much maligned and misunderstood caveman inventor, Dok.
“’What was that?’ said Hal coldly.
Dok sneezed, ‘I had thought of calling it a wheel. It’ll revolutionize transport – ‘
‘You said that about that other thing, the boat. It sank. With me in it. In a particularly deep bit of river, as I recall.’”
The Big Race – A tale about a race held over a hundred years ago – a steam car race held in Gritshire to prove that steam was superior to a new-fangled transportation energy source, gasoline. Let’s just say that shenanigans are the order of the day, um, race.
Another Tale of the Carpet People – A tale revolving around that age-old debate about whether the floor is flat. Intrepid carpet people explorers set sail on the Hugo out into the great unknown of the linoleum. They’re in search of the answer and adventure, which they find gobs of, and inadvertently discover the Rug. *gasp*
The Great Egg-Dancing Championship – A tale about the disgraceful goings-on at the Blackbury Egg-Dancing Championship, and it all centers on two rival families whose kids are in love. If you’re thinking shades of Romeo and Juliet with a decidedly Pratchett twist, you’re on the right track. Oh, and there are crooks too…
“Just as Jem was striding down the street, a badly made paper airplane drifted down from one of the upper windows of Band House. It hit him on the head, and on it was written:
‘Dad has locked me in my room.
I’ve had a good cry.
Edwo, the Boring Knight – A tale about a king’s third son, Edwo, who was so unliked by the people that they locked their doors when they saw him coming. Well, actually it’s a tale about what he learns during the quest his father sent him on because all princes must go on quests, right? And all know-it-all princes must get their comeuppances, right?
The 59A Bus Goes Back in Time – A tale about an old-fashioned ordinary bus and what happens to it when it crosses the Even Moor, where all mystery and magical things come from. Let’s just say the passengers had not planned for their usually boring bus trip to include a journey waaaay back in time.
The Abominable Snowman – A tale about a very bored, ridiculously rich young man named Bill who is delighted to set off with an intrepid explorer, who he doesn’t know from Adam, to capture an abominable snowman. What could possibly go wrong?
The Blackbury Monster – A tale about the City Council’s quest to put the town of Blackbury on the map. Could the solution be mysterious humps seen in the city’s Sluggard pond? Wouldn’t a monster be just the thing? I believe this tale falls in the “be careful what you wish for” category.
Father Christmas Goes to Work – A tale about Father Christmas, a.k.a. Santa Claus, who at his wife’s urging heads off to get a job. But what job can someone like him get, especially if he insists on being truthful about who he is and the odd things he can do? And if he gets a job, will he be able to keep it? Let’s take his job at the zoo, for example…
“’You let the monkeys out –‘
‘You gave everyone free elephant rides.’
‘I felt so sorry for them, you see. And the elephants enjoyed it…’
‘And you taught the hippos to fly. Very dangerous things, flying hippos.’”
I get concerned when I’m offered early works by an author that have never been published. My alarm bells start going off because I, rightly or wrongly, believe early works would have already been published if publishers found them worthy. Just so you know, I realize I’m probably wrong about that, and I still catch myself thinking it. Sigh.
In this case, I am delighted that the little tales in Dragons at Crumbling Castle: and Other Tales hold all the kernels of the author’s genius despite being the first tales he wrote. I literally laughed myself silly reading these wacky tales. They are definitely intended for young readers and are written at that simpler level; however, they still contain Terry Pratchett’s unique view of the world around us transported into a fun and fantastical realm. This collection is a great way to introduce the young ones in your life to this fun genre, and provide some hidden easy-to-understand life lessons along the way – a winning combo. So be sure to enter our giveaway and/or pick up a copy for the young reader in your life!
Can’t wait to read it?
Dragons at Crumbling Castle: and Other Tales was published in the U.S. on February 3, 2015 and in Europe on November 1, 2014, so it’s available from your favorite online bookseller below (or in the right column for iBooks) in a variety of formats. Click on the button/link and get it today for the young reader in your life.
I’d love to get your comments on Dragons at Crumbling Castle: and Other Tales, Terry Pratchett or his other work, and/or this review.
Click here to read our review of Snuff from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
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One lucky reader will win a finished hardcover copy of Dragons at Crumbling Castle: and Other Tales by Terry Pratchett!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 3/14/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 13 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form.
5) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
7) That’s it – it’s a super easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!