It is the “Glorious 25th of May” and if you are a fan of the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, you no doubt understand what that means. If you have yet to discover the joys of the Disc, please let me explain. Sir Terry wrote 40 books set on the Discworld, a flat disc that is set on the backs of four elephants who stand on the back of a great turtle who is traveling through space. Ostensibly fantasy novels, they actually skewer both common genre tropes and human foibles. In Night Watch, a Discworld book featuring the city watch (think policemen), citizens rise up in a revolution and later, survivors of the People’s Revolution gather each year on May 25th to remember their fallen brethren while wearing lilac blooms on their lapels. After it was announced in 2007 that Sir Terry had Alzheimer’s, his fans started to honor him each May 25th by wearing lilacs. With his death on March 12 of this year, this Glorious 25th of May is an enormously bittersweet day.
There have been some wonderful tributes to Sir Terry in the past couple of months. Everything from public art to tattoos to his name in computer code travelling at the speed of light around the globe. The author Frank Cottrell Boyce wrote an especially smart and touching remembrance. But of course the best tribute to an author is to read his books. Since Sir Terry was prolific, you may not know where to dive in. May I suggest reading Katharine Trendacosta’s excellent guide to his Discworld books? That should give you a good sense of where to start. But since The Hub focuses on YA literature, perhaps you should begin with some of Sir Terry’s YA novels, like The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, a unique take on the fable of the Pied Piper. Or The Wee Free Men, a tale of a young shepherdess who takes on a supernatural threat to her home armed with a frying pan, common sense, and the friendship of several hundred small, fierce pictsies (not pixies). Sir Terry won ALA’s Margaret Edwards Award for these and several other of his books.
If desert island survival is more your bag, may I suggest reading Nation, a 2009 Printz Honor book, about a giant wave, a shipwreck, and how survivors of disaster can come together to fight further catastrophe. Perhaps you enjoy Victorian England and stories of resourceful orphans? Then you should read Dodger, a tale featuring a smart young man of the streets who may or may not be Dicken’s Artful Dodger. Sir Terry got another Printz nod for this book.
There are more than 70 Terry Pratchett books out there in the world. He won literary prizes, critical acclaim, and the hearts of millions of readers. On this Glorious 25th of May, I strongly encourage you to read some of his books. His humor is tremendous, his satire stinging, and his wisdom deep. As a friend who is also a Pratchett fan said: “What I love about his writing is that he is aware of all our human shortcomings, but he still loves humanity.”
~ Geri Diorio, currently rereading Night Watch