The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
The Wee Free MenTiffany Aching has decided she wants to be a witch someday. For now she is watching her whiny younger brother, the baby of her family. She is also remembering Granny Aching, who had died a little while ago. She wonders about the small blue men she – thought? – she saw. While Wentworth is playing beside the river, Tiffany sees a strange thing rise out of the water – a monster? She pulls her whiny brother away from the water, goes up to the house and grabs her frying pan. She places him back by the water. When the monster comes after the boy again, she hit it over the head with her frying pan. It disappeared and the water returned to normal.
Miss Tick sees Tiffany from another world. After some discussion, they go to Tiffany’s country on Discworld. They set up a tent with a group other traveling teachers. Tiffany receives her first lessons on becoming a witch. Toad goes with Tiffany. When she returns home she discovers Wentworth has disappeared. She is determined to find him. She gains some other new friends -the Mac Mac Feegles or the Wee Free Men. They are the tiny blue men she had seen around the sheep and the river. They learn the Queen in the land of dreams kidnapped Wentworth. So Tiffany (with her trusty skillet), Toad, and the Wee Free Men step out of Tiffany’s world and into hers.
Ah, Discworld. It is the world where Terry Pratchett has fun with inept sorcerers (none in The Wee Free Men, though), intelligent witches, magical creatures, and a flat world resting on four elephants standing on a turtle that goes through space. When Pratchett takes the reader into the Queen’s land, the reader remembers that not all dreams are good ones. Some of the images the Queen uses against Tiffany are some of her scary nightmares.
The Wee Free Men are a hoot. Their Scottish brogue needs a machete to cut through it. Toad has to translate more than once for Tiffany. Their favorite things in life are the “fightin’ and the stealin’ and the drinkin’ and the fightin'”. They’re the fiercest warriors Tiffany could have at her side – as long as there isn’t anything to drink nearby.
Partchett’s world is full of fun and danger and laughs and chuckles, with the occasional cringe added in. There is a bit of philosophy thrown in as well. Tiffany has to examine herself when she goes to rescue her brother. She doesn’t think she loves him – he is annoying. But he’s hers, and no Queen is going to take him away from her. The Wee Free Men is a great book for lifting a despondent mood or brightening a gray day. It’s a lot of fun on a sunny day, too.