Reviews for Wee Free Men
Booklist Monthly Selections - # 2 April 2003
Gr. 6-10. Pratchett turns the bogeymen of fairy tales and nightmares into reality in the latest book in his popular, comedic Discworld series. Young Tiffany Aching, incipient witch armed with a large iron frying pan, goes after the Elf Queen, who has taken Tiffany's little brother into Fairyland and who plans to use humans' dreams to conquer their world. Tiffany's companions on her quest are a talking toad, who used to be a human, and a band of fierce Wee Free Men, who are six inches tall, talk with a Scottish brogue, and are famous for "stealin' an' drinkin' an' fightin'!" The action is both manic and a little scary as the queen confronts her pursuers with a headless horseman, dreams that trap dreamers inside them, and more. In the end, Tiffany must face the Queen alone while attempting to sort out reality from nightmare. Both the humor and the danger will appeal to fans of Discworld; they will also draw readers who like J. K. Rowling's Harry, Hermione, and Ron. ((Reviewed April 15, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Fall
When the fairy world begins exporting monsters and its queen kidnaps her little brother, Tiffany Aching sets out to bring him back. She is joined by a troupe of tiny, red-beared, blue-tattooed men called the Nac Mac Feegle. Pratchett steers the tale easily between magical adventure and just-as-interesting ordinary life, with comedic interludes, hair-raising danger, and shepherding wisdom mingling in perfect proportions. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #3
Tiffany Aching is a very practical-minded girl, and when nightmarish monsters from the fairy world begin showing up at her home on the Chalk, Tiffany doesn't wait for help to arrive, but instead sets out to stop them herself. The Chalk had formerly been under the protection of Granny Aching, who knew more about sheep than anyone living; now that Granny is gone, Tiffany has inherited both the Chalk and, it seems, Granny's witchcraft. In addition to exporting monsters, the fairy world's Queen is also kidnapping people into her realm--the Baron's son Roland, for one, and Tiffany's little brother Wentworth. Being the sort of person she is, Tiffany takes this quite personally and determines to bring Wentworth back. She is joined in her endeavor by a troupe of tiny, red-bearded, blue-tattooed men called the Nac Mac Feegle, or Wee Free Men, whose thick Scottish speech, berserker attitudes, and lack of social graces lend the book much of its comic charm. (One of the book's funniest set-pieces is the awkward scene in which nine-year-old Tiffany, as the new kelda, or leader, of the Nac Mac Feegle, is expected to select a husband from among the six-inch-high men.) Pratchett's touch is light but assured as he steers the tale easily between magical adventure and the just-as-interesting ordinary life on the Chalk, with comedic interludes, hair-raising danger, and flashbacks to Granny Aching's shepherding wisdom mingling in perfect proportions. The Wee Free Men, nearly indestructible and a bit daft, make a delightful foil to Tiffany's unsurprised steadiness. The slow but tantalizing pacing is superb, the matter-of-fact tone spot on--just the package to appeal to those who admire not just a brave heart but a quick comeback as well. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2003 April #2
There will be upheavals in the human and fantasy worlds of elves and witches, with drastic consequences, and Tiffany, with only a frying pan for a weapon, is caught in the middle. In an effort to rescue her spoiled, candy-loving baby brother whom the Elf Queen has stolen with the temptation of endless sweets, Tiffany enlists the aid of the Wee Free Men. The baby's rescue is accomplished with unrelenting drama, large servings of Pratchett's ironic humor, and a unique cast of characters. This includes an imperfect heroine who has inherited "First Sight and Second Thoughts" and who feels guilty because she did not truly love her whiney brother. The Wee Free Men are six-inch-tall blue men with a robust enthusiasm for stealing, fighting, and drinking. Set in a chillingly unrecognizable "fairyland," this ingenious mélange of fantasy, action, humor, and sly bits of social commentary contains complex underlying themes of the nature of love, reality, and dreams. The Carnegie Medal-winner's fans will not be disappointed. (Fantasy. 12+) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 May #2
The latest adventure set in Pratchett's sprawling, free-form Discworld boasts a winning heroine, the plucky young witch-in-training Tiffany Aching. Funny, sassy and spirited ("She preferred the witches to the smug handsome princes and especially to the stupid smirking princesses, who didn't have the sense of a beetle"), the heroine turns what might have been a simple adventure yarn (although nothing Pratchett does is ever simple, really) into an enthralling and rewarding read. What's not to love about a teenage girl who takes on vicious monsters, armed with only a frying pan? Her bravery will win over not only readers but the Wee Free Men of the title, the Nac Mac Feegle-puckish, (somewhat) lovable imps who exude a certain charm despite their innate and unrepentant kleptomania. The Nac Mac Feegle come to Tiffany's aid when her younger brother Wentworth is kidnapped; the ultimate showdown between Tiffany and the cold-hearted Queen of the Elves transpires as a joyous triumph of innocence over cruel ambition. As always, Pratchett weaves eminently quotable morsels (a person-turned-toad warns of the perils of fairy godmothers: "Never cross a woman with a star on a stick... they've got a mean streak"), into his artfully constructed prose. Some of the characteristically punny humor may pass over the heads of younger readers, but plenty of other delights will keep them hooked. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2003 May
Gr 5-7-Tiffany, an extremely competent nine-year-old, takes care of her irritating brother, makes good cheese on her father's farm, and knows how to keep secrets. When monsters from Fairyland invade her world and her brother disappears, Tiffany, armed only with her courage, clear-sightedness, a manual of sheep diseases, and an iron frying pan, goes off to find him. Her search leads her to a showdown with the Fairy Queen. It is clear from the beginning that Tiffany is a witch, and a mighty powerful one. The book is full of witty dialogue and a wacky cast of characters, including a toad (formerly a lawyer). Much of the humor is supplied by the alcohol-swilling, sheep-stealing pictsies, the Wee Free Men of the title, who are six-inches high and speak in a broad Scottish brogue. (The fact that readers will not understand some of the dialect won't matter, as Tiffany doesn't understand either, and it is all part of the joke.) These terrors of the fairy world are Tiffany's allies, and she becomes their temporary leader as they help her search for the Fairy Queen. Once the story moves into Fairyland it becomes more complex, with different levels of dream states (or, rather, nightmares) and reality interweaving. Tiffany's witchcraft eschews the flamboyant tricks of wizards; it is quiet, inconspicuous magic, grounded in the earth and tempered with compassion, wisdom, and justice for common folk. Not as outrageous and perhaps not as inventive as The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (HarperCollins, 2001), The Wee Free Men has a deeper, more human interest and is likely to have wider appeal. All in all, this is a funny and thought-provoking fantasy, with powerfully visual scenes and characters that remain with readers. A glorious read.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 October
Gr 5-7-When Tiffany enters Fairyland to rescue her kidnapped brother, readers are in for a rousing romp, for this girl has grit, determination, and more than a touch of witchcraft on her side. With clever dialogue and outlandish characters, this suspenseful fantasy is as funny as it is wise. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2003 August
Young Tiffany Aching knows lots about minding sheep, children, and the dairy, but until she finds herself forced to do battle with the malicious Queen of the Elves, she does not know anything at all about magic and witchcraft. Without warning one afternoon, various denizens of Fairyland invade the chalk country, home to generations of shepherds and Tiffany's only home. Keeping in mind the sturdy independence and shrewd insights of her beloved and recently deceased Granny Aching, Tiffany sets out to protect what is hers. She is aided in her progress through the nightmarish convolutions of Fairyland by her new acquaintances, the Wee Free Men. These six-inch-high, blue pictsies excel at fighting, thieving, and drinking. Believing themselves already to have died and gone to heaven, they are absolutely fearless and indomitable, if a bit likely to get sidetracked anytime an opportunity to indulge in one of their three favorite pastimes arises. Eventually, Tiffany fulfills her quest, but as with all good heroines, she learns more about herself than anything else and will not be able to return to a quiet life just making cheeses anymore. Fans of Pratchett's series will enjoy cameo appearances in the novel by several well-known Discworld witches, but for the most part the book stands on its own. Uncharacteristically for Pratchett, the novel is hobbled, however, by a predictable plot and redeemed only through its characters. Tiffany's staunch practicality is nicely balanced by the impulsive vigor of the Wee Free Men, and the dialogue is always lively.-Megan Isaac. PLB $17.89. ISBN 0-06-001237-4. 4Q 3P S Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews