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Discussion Module

The Wee Free Men
by
Terry Pratchett

Publishing Information: HarperCollins Publishing: New York, 2003
ISBN: 00060012366
Pages
: 375 p.
Ages: 12 & Up

Summary:
Tiffany Aching is a young dairymaid with living in a rural area. She has some witch-like tendencies, but she isn't quite sure what that means. That is until she saves her brother from a monster who rises from the river by whacking it on the head with a frying pan. The fairy world is colliding with her world and the monsters are moving in, but not if Tiffany has anything to do with it. When her brother is kidnapped by the fairy queen, Tiffany goes on a rescue mission aided by the Wee Free Men, a band of six-inch-high, blue, fairy-land rejects.

Book Talk:
Armed with a frying pan and a hoard of six-inch high blue men, Tiffany Aching must battle the fairy queen to save her brother. The frying pan is the only weapon a nine-year-old can get a hold of, but luckily Tiffany is also a witch-in-training, so that should help. The six-inch-blue men are the Nac MacFeegle, kicked out of fairyland because of their cursing, fighting, and drinking. But Tiffany is their leader and they will protect her to their death, although she isn't always sure if she wants them around.  

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Celtic Mythology
Discworld
Fairies
Kidnapping
Magic
Nightmares
Witchcraft

Awards & Reviews:
ALA Notable Children's Books, 2004
School Library Journal Best Books, 2003
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2004
BookList, April 15, 2003
School Library Journal, May 2003, p.158

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. What does Tiffany think of fairy tales?   (Extension: read other rewrites of fairy tales for comparison)
  2. How did Granny Aching get people to do what she wanted?  
  3. According to Tiffany, was Granny Aching a witch? How does this impact her decision to develop her own witchcraft?
  4. What is the Nac MacFeegle's view of death? How does it impact their way of life? (Extension: research Celtic mythology)
  5. What does a macgonegal do? (Extension: research bards and ballads)
  6. What are the differences between first, second and third thoughts?
  7. Why does Tiffany become the Kelda? What exactly does it mean she has to do?
  8. How are Discworld children educated? Why don't they have a mandatory school system?
  9. How do the dream monsters work? How does Tiffany defeat them?
  10. Why does the fairy Queen kidnap Wentworth and Roland? (Extension: read the ballads "Tam Lin" and "Sir Roland")
  11. What are fairies really like? How is it different from the book Tiffany studies? (Extension: view the movie Fairy Tale: A True Story/Extension: read "The Fairies" by William Allingham, which was also quoted in the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

Related Websites:
Author's Website - www.terrypratchettbooks.com
The L-Space Web: A Terry Pratchett/Discworld Web Site - www.lspace.org

Read-a-Likes:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman, 2002
The Fairy Tale series edited by Terry Windling
books by Douglas Adams
books by Piers Anthony
books by Kurt Vonnegut

Other Books by the Author:
The Dark Side of the Sun, 1976
The Colour of Magic, 1983
Equal Rites, 1987
Mort, 1987
The Light Fantastic, 1988
Wyrd Sisters, 1988
Guards! Guards!, 1989
Pyramids: The Book of Going Forth, 1989
Sourcery, 1989
Diggers, 1990
Moving Pictures, 1990
Truckers, 1990
Reaper Man, 1991
Wings, 1991
Witches Abroad, 1991
Small Gods, 1994
Eric, 1995
Maskerade, 1995
Soul Music
, 1995
Feet of Clay, 1996
Hogfather, 1996
Johnny and the Bomb, 1996
Lords and Ladies, 1996
Men at Arms, 1996
Interesting Times, 1997
Jingo, 1998
Carpe Jugulum, 1999
The Last Continent, 1999
The Fifth Elephant, 2000
The Truth, 2000
The Last Hero, 2001
Thief of Time, 2001
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, 2001
Night Watch, 2002
Monstrous Regiment, 2003
Going Postal, 2004
A Hat Full of Sky, (sequel to The Wee Free Men)
Johnny & the Dead, 2004
Only You Can Save Mankind, 2005
Strata, 2005

About the Author:
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels that have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world. 

With sales of over 30 million copies, Pratchett's brilliantly funny and subtly wise books have been translated into more than 25 languages.

In addition to his 29 novels (as of 2004) about the fantastic flat planet Discworld, Pratchett has written several children's books, including The Bromeliad Trilogy and the books about Johnny Maxwell: Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Bomb, and Johnny and the Dead.

He won the Carnegie Medal for his first young adult novel set in Discworld, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, which was also named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, one of the New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, and a Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Book of Outstanding Merit.

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