Only You Can Save Mankind

9780060541873_p0_v1_s260x420What if a character in the computer game you were playing suddenly became real? In The first of Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell trilogy, Johnny faces down aliens in “Only You Can Save Mankind.” Targeted for a middle school audience, Pratchett’s science fiction thriller has some elements appealing to adults, with Pratchett’s clever references to human foibles, including unhealthy food, politics, and parenting, but overall, Johnny’s struggles with making friends, being a nerd, and generally trying to understand the adult world, fit the formula for a coming of age adventure.

I found this slim paperback, surrounded by shelves of Terry Pratchett books in the upstairs maze in The Last Bookstore. The title attracted me and had me wondering – can mankind be saved? Pratchett offers a few funny alternatives in his war against the aliens, and the action gets exciting as the story heads to its climax.

A fun quick read and Pratchett is now on my list of children’s authors to follow.  My favorite quote from the book:

You might never win, but at least you could try.  If not you, who else?

Dickens at Christmas – Dodger

9780062009494_p0_v1_s260x420In the spirit of Christmas – past, present, and future – I am reading a little Charles Dickens on Christmas Day through the clever mystery of Terry Pratchett’s Dodger.  Set in Victorian England, Patchett channels the master storyteller Dickens and his charming fictional rogue, Dodger in an adventure to rescue a damsel in distress.

Inspired by the Charles Dickens display at the Morgan Library in New York City, and prompted by a review in the Washington Post sent by a good friend who shared the outing, I ordered Dodger from my library and it appeared just in time for Christmas reading.  Although listed as a book for older children, adults who know the literary and political references will appreciate the nuances.  Back to reading for me – and Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Related:

  1. The Morgan Library Exhibits
  2. Washington Post Book World Review of “Dodger”