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    Terry Pratchett (see his website)


    HarperCollins, 2003

    The Wee Free Men are scared--the lines between the world are getting thin and the Queen that they once served is ready to break through. Only a witch can help--but the only witch available is nine-year-old Tiffany. Tiffany Aching doesn't know magic and she doesn't have a pointed hat, but she's decided she will be a witch some day. With the arrival of the Queen and the kidnapping of Tiffany's brother, some day arrives more quickly than Tiffany had anticipated.

    Tiffany sets off on an adventure in a dream world--a world where your dreams can hurt you, and where other being's dreams can hurt you even more. The Queen is the mistress of dreams--and nightmares. In her kingdom, and increasingly in the mundane world that Tiffany comes from, nightmare monsters are loose. Even the wee free men cannot stand against them.

    Author Terry Pratchett (see more reviews of novels by Pratchett) starts with a simple fairy tale--the poor shepherd girl facing the evil Queen, and dresses it with multiple layers of meaning. At the simplest level, WEE FREE MEN is an adventure that twists many of the established rules of the fairy tale (the witches are the goodguys, the beautiful Queen is evil, and the baron's son is purely incompetent). Dig deeper and every detail had weight. The Wee Men are funny with their Scottish accents and willingness to fight, but they are also a bit sad and more especially, a good example for all of us. Like us, they've been fooled before. Unlike most of us, they are willing to fight to prevent it from happening again.

    Tiffany, armed with her frying pan and with instructions to open her eyes, then open them again, is unusually clever for a nine-year-old, but then she is the hero. With the example of her grandmother behind her, there is little that Tiffany cannot do if she can keep her mind on it--and keep from being swept up in other people's dreams.

    I might be making WEE GREEN MEN sound like some sort of philosophy text and nothing could be farther from the truth. It's filled with Pratchett humor and insights, an exciting adventure, and emotional complexities. One small word of warning--although the Nac Mac Feegle (the wee men) appear in Discworld stories, Tiffany's world resembles our own a lot more than it does the Discworld of Ankh Morpork and the Great God Om.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/17/03

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