Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"He famously defended fairy stories against those who said they told children that there were monsters; children already know that there are monsters, he said, and fairy stories teach them that monsters can be killed. We now know that the monsters may not simply have scales and sleep under a mountain. They may be in our own heads."

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

Carnegie winner: 2001
Author: Terry Pratchett

The first novel set in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to be explicitly written for children, the story draws its influences from fairy-tale, The Pied Piper of Hamlyn and forms a wonderfully weird and witty, intricately plotted and very clever pastiche of a children’s adventure.  Language, characterisation and the eccentric inner logic of Discworld combine to make this an instantly memorable story. 

Maurice, a cunning feline, is running an extortion racket running between towns with a band of rats and a witless child piper, Keith, trying to convince the people there are infestations that need to be dealt with.  The rats hold unlikely names, Hamnpork, Sardines, Dangerous Beans, Peaches and Darktan, based on various product labels they encountered.  They have begun their own community, even starting a religion based on a discarded picture book, ‘Mr Bunnsy Has an Adventure’ which they revere as a sacred text. 

As well as being uproariously funny, there is comment here around the roles of nature and nurture in determining our characters and about the ways stories grow and evolve in the public consciousness and psyche.   Richly intertextual, threads are drawn upon from stories, literature and popular culture.  There are many subversive qualities including the resistance to make the animals even slightly sentimental adding to the original and unique take on the fantasy genre.

Brimming with humour and hope, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents takes a fresh and distinct approach to comedy and fantasy, two forms too often maligned and melds them to create an uplifting, life-affirming and inquisitive tales that offer rich pickings for readers.