Monday, 5 March 2012

Book 14 of 2012: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett is easily one of my favourite Discworld novels. I first read it in a rush because I was meeting the man himself and I wanted to have it finished before I met him. I managed to finish it in the coach on the way to the library where we were due to meet him.

I got my copy signed ('with cheese' is what he wrote) and had a lovely conversation with him about rats. At the time I had three pet rats, all white, just like the ones in the picture of Terry Pratchett on the back cover.
This one is actually the first in the Discworld series which is written for younger readers/children/whatever. It makes for a nice quick, easy read (and it's one that I'm plotting to get Mr. Click to read in the future considering he quite enjoyed Mrs Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. considering he's a bit of a fan of rats). Plus it has pictures and a cute little fairytale about Mr Bunnsy running through the story as well. It's one of very few Discworld novels to have chapters as well, which does make it easier to find a place to stop when you have to sleep or go to work.
"He'd realized there was something educated about the rats when he jumped on one and it'd said, 'Can we talk about this?', and part of his amazing new brain had told him you couldn't eat someone who could talk. At least, not until you'd heard what they'd got to say."
Page 19
Now this review is blantantly biased, because this book combines several of my favourite things: Discworld, Terry Pratchett's sense of humour and rats. Seriously, it's like it was written just for me (had I met him before it was published, I would totally believe that it was). For one thing, the way that the rats behave and talk are exactly the way I could imagine my own rats being. Over the years I've owned (or at least supported the ownership of) twenty-four rats (obviously not all at the one time). Holly, Ivy, Carol and Bell were originally going to be called Hamnpork, Darktan, Dangerous Beans and Sardines until we realised that they were little girls rather than little boys and thought they needed something a bit more feminine (the former names are still on the cards for future rats).
"'How do I know? Maybe they were made by a Big Human?'
'Oh, now you're just being silly,' said the doubting rat, who was called Tomato."
Page 105
Rereading this book always brings back good memories of the school trip we went on to meet Mr Pratchett. I ended up going on it completely by chance. It hadn't been advertised at school, only those people who the English teacher and librarian organising it knew to be fans were invited to go. I was taking a couple of books out of the library at school and the school librarian commented that she didn't know I liked Terry Pratchett. When I'd finished gushing about how much I loved his books, she told me that there was one space left on the trip and it was mine if I wanted it.

We went in a little minibus off to a library in (I think) Paisley. Listed to him talking about his books (one of which I now recognise as Monstrous Regiment, though at the time it hadn't been published yet) and then got to ask him questions. Then we got books signed, had our pictures taken, then the teacher and librarian took us to the cinema to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Clearly the best school trip ever!
"'Shall I carry you down?' Malicia said to Maurice.
'Shall I scratch your eyes out?' Maurice responded."
Page 132

With The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents every time I read it, I feel like I'm spotting something new. It's always the same with the Discworld books, there's always something there that I never noticed before. Of course, it causes problems when coming up with quotes to write in my book journal, because some of the things I'd like to quote begin on one page and are then summed or up returned to several pages later. I'd have to copy out several pages at a time to cover all of my favourite bits!
"'That's not a poison, is it?'
'No, it's a laxative.'
'What's that?'
'It makes you... go.'
'Go where?'
'Not where stupid. You just... go. I don't particularly want to draw you a picture.'"
Page 213

I think that this one would work really well as an adaptation. I'd love to see Sky doing it as they've done with the other Discworld stories they've adapted. I could almost see it being done in a similar way to The Tale of Desperaux, CGI-style. I realise that if they did, it could go one of two ways; either I would love it because they did justice to one of my favourite stories, or I would hate it because it didn't live up to my expectations. I still think it would make a brilliant film/TV version and would hopefully introduce some more readers to Maurice and his educated rodents.
"He leaned down. 'Can... you... un-der-stand... me?' he said, pronouncing each word very carefully.
'Yes... be-cause... I'm... not... stu-pid,' said Darktan."
Page 307

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Let me know what you think. :-)