2016: 60.-64. YA Round Up

I called this a YA round up, but really, it’s a mix of children’s books and YA.  Four of them I read aloud to Son #1 (who has become a full blown bookworm, much to his mother’s delight.  Currently he is reading Harry Potter, but these are all books I read to him), and one I grabbed off the shelf and devoured in one sitting, as the ultimate comfort reading.  

The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett

If you don’t know about Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men (aka the Nac Mac Feegels), you should turn off your computer and go read them immediately.  There are four books in the series (we only have read three so far, as they get more sophisticated as they go, and I thought number four was too much for a seven year old), and they are all delightful.  If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ve heard me talk about the late great Terry Pratchett, whose books combine humor, and fantasy, and most of all, heart - he started out with silly parodies, but soon his books were about so much more, that it’s almost a shame that they are fantasies (though not the kind with names like Ragnorthrok, son of Elbanor), because I think more people read them, and they deserve to be read.  Anyway, this a young adult series, focusing on Tiffany Aching, witch in training, and the small blue drunken fairies (though more like Scottish hooligans) who help her, the Nac Mac Feegels.  In this book, Tiffany’s small brother gets kidnapped by the fairy queen, and she has to go rescue him.  She is eight years old, accompanied by nothing but a frying pan, and a horde of rascals (the aforementioned Wee Free Men).

My son loved this book, because he thought the Nac Mac Feegles were so, so, funny.  And they really are - they are brave, and dim, and loyal, and I read all their voices in a Scottish accent, and he and I giggled throughout the whole thing.  And we still talk like them sometimes - he says “Crivens!” and whenever one of my kids is moaning about nothing, I say “oh, wailey, wailey, wailey.”  It was truly a delight to read it out loud to him.

A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett

This is the second Tiffany Aching book.  Tiffany has left her home, the Chalk, to go train to be a witch.  This mostly involves doing chores for a senior witch, and learning a little magic on the side, but Tiffany enjoys it.  And she gets to meet other young witches, including the darling Petulia, and the snobby Annagramma.  But when a hiver (it’s too complicated, read the book), arrives and takes over Tiffany’s mind, she (and the Nac Mac Feegles, of course), need to battle to save herself.  

Also a delight.  The new witches are great, the hiver concept is very well done and the Nac Mac Feegles are as raucous and brawling as ever.  Loved it.

Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett

Finally we have Wintersmith, in which Tiffany, still learning how to be a witch, accidentally causes Winter to fall in love with her.  Which causes a whole host of problems, as you might expect, and also, there is is the issue of Roland, her “friend” back on the chalk.  We liked reading this one, too - the Nac Mac Feegles are never not funny, but it was a little too advanced for my boy, and after this we decided to put a hold on the series until we are older.  That having been said, this book is just as great as the others to read as an adult.  Pratchett very neatly balances the adventure-y plot with thoughts on growing up, and love and such, and it’s just very well done.  I enjoyed it IMMENSELY, and any grown up who loves YA will like this and all the Tiffany books.

“It’s time to go to the station, Tom.”

An Old Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott

This is an obscure novel by Alcott (of Little Women) fame, and it is Alcott at her most didactic.  See the book is about Polly, a good little poor girl from the country, who comes to visit her rich friend Fanny in Boston, and teaches the whole family with her kind, pure and true ways.  I know. But despite the moral, Alcott can’t help but write fun, real characters, and you love them so much you just ignore the preaching.  And the second half, when they are all grown up and having love troubles is a total delight.  Especially if you were unsatisfied with the ending of Little Women (ahem, LAURIE??).  You might need to be in the bag for Alcott - or at least old fashioned YA to enjoy this, but I loooooooved re-reading it.  Total comfort read, and I still loved the people inside!

N.B. - I did not read this to my seven year old boy.  That’s too much to ask of him.

The BFG, Roald Dahl.

Get ready for a lot of Dahl in my next YA round up - the guys and and I (both the big and the medium) have cracked open the entire works of Dahl set my mom gave us, and we are loving it.  We started with The BFG , because 1) it was one of my faves as a kid, and 2) the movie is coming which I thought might incentivize the 5 year old to stick with it.  He did ok - loved parts, but drifted off in the middle, but my 7 year old was IN THE BAG for the BFG.  We loved it.  We laughed, we loved the ending (“So much better than No Flying in the House”) - and we have been Dahl-ing it up ever since.  

In case you don’t know, the BFG is the Big Friendly Giant.  He brings wonderful dreams to children every night.  But he lives in Giant Country with 9 horrible giants, who eat humans every night.  Can the BFG and the small girl Sophie stop these horrible beasts? (P.S., they can).

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017