Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Back in early December, when my collaboration partner and I sat down to plan what we were going to do second trimester, we started discussing an expedition into the mysterious and macabre, featuring Poe and stories of the afterlife from different cultures.
She mentioned that we should have the kids read Mort. I'd never heard of Mort, but picked it up.
Mort is the title character of the novel, a sort of gangly awkward youth in need of a nudge out the nest. He's thoughtful but dim-witted, and meanders through his chores. Dad's had enough, and hauls him off to an apprentice fair to get him attached to a master so he can learn a skill. The only master interested in Mort is a skeletal figure in a black robe carrying a scythe. Mort ends up apprenticed to Death. He learns the ropes, but as he starts taking on the most dread of duties, he finds himself incapable of sticking to the script, which has potential dire consequences for the Universe.
This is a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, and my first. There are many laudatory comments on the novel's cover that Pratchett is uproarious and hilarious and outrageous--actually he's more droll or wry. I chuckled now and again. It took me forever to read the book because I wasn't completely won over. But I did finish it, and imagine that middle schoolers might like it. Though I've read comparisons of Pratchett and Douglass Adams, I'd think a more apt comparison would be Pratchett and Piers Anthony's Xanth series: harmless fantasy novels which are cute, full of bad puns and quiet sexual innuendo and authorial asides. In other words, perfect for imaginative middle-schoolers.