To mark 'Terry Pratchett Day' (the author's anniversary, on April 28th) , Penguin (Corgi) are publishing a new edition of this little masterpiece with a fresh, child-friendly cover. To accompany it, they have also produced a free 'virtually live' webcast for schools. (puffinvirtuallylive.co.uk)
I hope this initiative will help to introduce a new generation of children (and their teachers) to this first book in the Tiffany Aching series. These are amongst the few Discworld titles written especially for a younger audience and the sequence is undoubtedly one of the real gems of 21st century children's fantasy. (See my posts from June '14 and Sept '15.)
This first book is tremendous fun, accessible and engrossing. Trainee witch,Tiffany, is a strong, likeable protagonist and shares her story with the Nac Mac Feegles, a clan of tiny but belligerent warriors who must rank amongst the best comic creations of children's literature. Tiffany matures through the series as she struggles to become the sort of witch she wants to be, so these are wonderful books for children to grow up with, and through. They are rich in folklore and magic, but also profoundly humane, full of what you might call the milk of human kindness - as well as being some of the best entertainment around.
The Wee Free Men is the ideal place for an 8-12 year-old to start on this enriching journey. The sequence continues with: A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and concludes with Terry Pratchett 's wonderful final book, The Shepherd's Crown
"People think that stories are shaped by people.
In fact, it's the other way around." Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad