The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: Discworld Book #28



Book: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: Discworld Book #28

Author: Terry Pratchett

Illustrator: David Wyatt

Publisher: HarperCollins, reprinted in 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0060012342 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 006001234X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0060012359 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0060012358 Paperback

Related websites: (author), (publisher)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 12 and up

Rating: ****4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Pratchett, Terry.  The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: Discworld Book #28 (published in 2001 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019).  Maurice is a changeling cat, one who can think and talk.  His educated rodents are changeling rats with names like Hamnpork, Big Savings, and Darktan, who became sentient by eating magic-contaminated trash in the University of Wizards’ garbage dump.  Maurice ate one of the rats and became sentient as well.  The group has teamed up with a “stupid-looking kid” named Keith, an orphan who was raised by a guild of musicians and can play the flute, in a pied piper scam where the rats steal food, frighten ladies, and generally make nuisances of themselves.  Then the town advertises for a piper, Keith appears to lead the rats away for a small fee, and they all meet up later to divide the loot. The con is highly successful until the rats develop a conscience, but they reluctantly agree to one final heist in the town of Bad Blintz.  Here they encounter Malicia Grim, a pair of dishonest rat-catchers, a dog and rat fighting ring, and a real pied piper.

However, things go horribly wrong as the crew also finds something truly and powerfully evil lurking in the town’s cellars.  What will happen to the inhabitants of Bad Blintz?  Will the amazing Maurice and his educated rodents survive the fighting?  And just what is this great evil force?  The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is Book #28 in the Discworld comic fantasy series, beginning with The Color of Magic in1983, written by the English author Terry Pratchett (1948-2015), set on the fictional Discworld, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle Great A’Tuin.   It is the first “Discworld” novel for children instead of adults, although The Guardian noted that “[t]he main audience for Pratchett’s 48 books, all busily in print, is teenagers.”  It differs from most Discworld novels also by its division into chapters.  The story has been called a new take on the German fairy tale about the Pied Piper of Hamelin and a parody of the folk tale genre.  There are numerous references to the rats’ “widdling” (a term for urinating), as well as drinking beer, farting, and even a veiled scene of obvious adultery.

The rats occasionally have talks about rlllk, which is their word for breeding or mating and embarrasses them somewhat.  As to language, in addition to a few common euphemisms such as gosh, mention is made of using “swear words,” and a lot of what is apparent cursing in rat language appears.  Also, the “d” word is, unfortunately, found twice.  This story will appeal to some youngsters and not to others.  Despite the humorous tone of the novel, there are some genuinely frightening moments, too, and many readers, especially those who are younger, may find parts of the story, such as descriptions of how some of the rats die and how others eat their dead, rather intense.   At the same time, the rats tackle a number of interesting questions about morality, philosophy, and religion that provide some thought-provoking moments.   Generally speaking, I found the tale well-written, the characters likeable, and the plot easy to follow.  The book was the 2001 winner of the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, which recognizes the year’s best children’s book published in the United Kingdom.

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