The Amazing Maurice
By Terry Pratchett
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Terry Pratchett is the author of over 41 Discworld novels for adults and many stories for children including the five novels featuring the young witch Tiffany Aching – The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight and The Shepherd’s Crown. His books are notable for their wit, humour and satirical view of humankind which he didn’t abate in his works for younger readers.
The Amazing Maurice is a new edition of an old favourite and Carnegie Medal winning The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents because a film of the book is coming out soon. Read the book before you see the film if you can because it is a marvellous story shining with all of Pratchett’s original view of the world.
Apparently at some university for wizards they used to throw all the leftovers of their used spells and other magic odd and ends onto a rubbish heap where rats used to forage. These rats suddenly found themselves much cleverer than other rats, they could speak, plan and collaborate with each other. The cat Maurice is also able to speak, plan and co-ordinate. How he became especially clever is revealed in the middle of the story in a typical Pratchett twist. Anyway, the rats and Maurice travel the country scamming unsuspecting villages. Along the way they have picked up a dopey kid, Keith, who loves playing a pipe and everything looks set for success – the rats infest a village, Maurice negotiates a price for their removal, the kid plays his pipe and they all make a fortune. That is the idea, but, of course, everything goes horribly wrong when they try their scam in Bad Blintz.
Maurice comes very close several times to breaking his iron rule of not eating anyone who can talk. The rats, Hamnpork, Dangerous Beans, Delicious, Darktan, Sardines and more come very close to disaster, but goodness triumphs over evil and it all ends happily. One stand out character is Malicia, a girl who loves and inhabits stories. She is always analysing and directing the action according to popular tales thus providing a kind of meta commentary on events.
According to Andrew Baker the producer of the film this is one of the books Terry was most proud of having written. In his short essay ‘From Page to Screen’ at the back of this edition Andrew talks about the challenges of bringing this much loved classic to the screen. He says the film is not a direct translation of the book but is a unique take on Terry’s story. The reader can get a glimpse of what this is as a section of The Amazing Maurice film script is included at the end of the book. An added bonus are the eight pages of delightful colour stills from the film.
The Amazing Maurice is a memorable introduction for young readers to Terry Pratchett’s oeuvre and a thoroughly enjoyable read for those who already know and love his work.
Corgi Children’s 2022