25/05/2008

Truckers (by Terry Pratchett)

After reading an emotionally moving novel, I like to have a contrast in something light, and preferably humorous. So what could be better than Terry Pratchett?

Rather than re-reading one of the Discworld books, however, I decided to read 'Truckers', first in the Bromeliad trilogy. It's intended for children, but is one of those wonderful crossover books, all the more enjoyable by adults who can pick up on much of the humour that may be missed by children.

I first read this about fifteen years ago, I suppose, when I first came across Pratchett. Then I read it to my sons when they were about six and eight - and it made an excellent read-aloud. But since then it's sat on the shelves; re-read by my sons several times, but not by me. Until now.

The story is about a group of 'nomes' - small people who inhabit the same world as humans, but a great deal faster. They remind me slightly of Mary Norton's "The Borrowers" , but are a great deal more interesting (in my view).

The first nomes we meet are outdoor ones, surviving - just about - in the open world, by luck, skill and determination. Masklin is the only hunter left, and he knows they cannot survive long in the wild. So he persuades them to get in a truck, and ends up at a large department store, established in 1905 by Arnold Bros. There they discover thousands of nomes, living in different departments in rivalry with each other, and with an entire religious system brilliantly written in the 'book of nome', passing down a little ancient wisdom, a bit of current happenings, and several misunderstood signs around the store.

The store nomes have no idea there is a world outside the store; they have their own world under the floorboards of the shop, and everything they could possibly need. Until they learn that the store is to be demolished in three weeks...

It's very cleverly written, with subtle humour that parodies human foibles in a similar manner to some of the Discworld books. Did you ever wonder why you press the 'up' button on a lift, only to go down a floor first? After reading this book, you'll never wonder again...

I thoroughly enjoyed it; it's a quick light read, probably best as a read-aloud. Still in print in the UK, and also available as part of the full trilogy. Buying the entire trilogy at once is a good idea, since 'Truckers' is left rather open at the end; the first time I read it, I immediately wanted to find the sequel ('Diggers').

Recommended.

Review copyright © Sue's Book Reviews, 25th May 2008. All rights reserved.

No comments: