Reading To Our Kids

What my wife & I are reading to our four kids

Well isn’t that just gorgeous!

One Photo. Every Day.

Loves reading more and more everyday.

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The Rough Music

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35)

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Reading to: Alanah (9) & Sabrina (3).

Warning, spoilers ahead.

Chapter 2, The Rough Music

This book has a number of quite scary scenes in it.  When the Cunning Man takes over the body of the murderer in prison and runs it to bits to get Tiffany, that’s pretty nasty.  The anger and hatred that the townsfolk show towards Tiffany as the Cunning Man stirs up their fears and prejudices, that’s pretty dark too.  But I don’t think any of them are as confronting as chapter two, The Rough Music.

She slapped Petty’s face. ‘Can you hear that?’ she demanded, waving her hand towards the darkened window. ‘Can you hear it? That’s the sound of the rough music, and they are playing it for you, Mister Petty, for you. And they have sticks! And they have stones! They have everything they can pick up, and they have their fists and your daughter’s baby died, Mister Petty. You beat your daughter so hard, Mister Petty, that the baby died, and your wife is being comforted by some of the women and everybody knows that you have done it, everybody knows.’

The rough music was getting nearer slowly, because it’s hard to walk across fields on a dark night when you’ve had a skinful of beer, no matter how righteous you are currently feeling. She had to hope that they did not go into the barn first, because they would hang him there and then. If he was lucky, they would just hang him. When she had looked into the barn and seen that murder had been done, she knew that, without her, it would be done again. She had put a charm on the girl to take her pain away, holding it just above her own shoulder. It was invisible, of course, but in her mind’s eye it burned a fiery orange.

That is dark, very dark for this early in the book, and much darker than any of the previous books. I was concerned that maybe it would disturb my kids, but so far so good.  I really like this book, it’s dark and malevolent but it touches on so many important themes, while still managing to be entertaining. And funny. This is still a Pratchett Discworld novel after all. The fact that a book can deal with child abuse, miscarriage, murder, prejudice and hatred while still managing to make you laugh demonstrates to me the complete genius of Sir Terry Pratchett.

Interestingly enough I discovered that the ‘Rough Music’ is (or at least was) a real thing.  I thought it was just another term that Pratchett had made up but it really is a term for local village ‘justice’

The participants were generally young men temporarily bestowed with the power of rule over the everyday affairs of the community.Issues of sexuality and domestic hierarchy most often formed the pretexts for rough music,including acts of domestic violence or child abuse.

So there you go, even when re-reading a book for the third time you can learn something new!

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This is a beautiful map done of the area surrounding the Sto Plains on Discworld. I’m going to show this to my kids, becuase we’ve started ‘I Shall Wear Midnight‘. Previously the Tiffany books didn’t stray far from The Chalk (just above the middle of the map), in Wintersmith Tiffany went up to Lancre, but in this book she goes down to Ankh-Morpork too.

Stuffed Crocodile

deviantArt user SM9T8 created this stunning map according to the descriptions in the L-Space Wiki and the Discworld Mapp.

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Kicking off ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35)

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Reading to: Alanah (9) & Sabrina (3).

A man with no eyes. No eyes at all. Two tunnels in his head …Somewhere – some time – there’s a tangled ball of evil and spite, of hatred and malice, that has woken up. And it’s waking up all the old stories too – stories about evil old witches…

Due warning: there be spoilers ahead!

Last night we continued on our reading of Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series by starting I Shall Wear Midnight. Tiffany is now 16 years old and is the witch of The Chalk. As with the previous Tiffany books, as she has gotten older, so have the topics in the books.  This book get a fair bit darker, it has child abuse (not explicitly spelled out, but it’s there), sexual tension, broken hearts, betrayal, violence, bigotry and religious hysteria.  The “Cunning Man” is a take off the church Inquisitors of old and he is a genuinely scary and horrific character.

While technically I am reading this to both my nine year old (Alanah) and my three year old (Sabrina), I start the night by reading Sabrina one of her books (pretty much always Charlie & Lola at the moment). So Sabrina generally falls asleep not long after I finish reading that.  I don’t really think she’d follow most of it anyway, but she is also a big fan of the Nac Mac Feegle.

There’s also a few cameos in this book from previous (non-Tiffany) Discworld books, including Magrat Garlick, Death & my favourites: The City Watch.  There is also a fairly important role played by one Eskarina Smith the main protagonist in the book Equal Rites where she is a daughter of a Wizard (not supposed to happen) and gets enrolled at Unseen University by Granny Weatherwax. The fact that no female was allowed to enrol was of no great concern to Granny.  We also get to go to the famous Boffo Novelty and Joke Shop.

Anyway there’s also a bunch of time-travel and altered reality stuff in this book, but frankly if my kids can keep up with Doctor Who, they can cope with this.  This is the last of the Tiffany books, and there has been no hint (that I know of) that there will be any more.  I foresee much sad faces & pouting to come at the end of this one, although maybe Lani can graduate on to reading Wyrd Sisters herself.

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Finished Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35)

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Reading to: Alanah (9) & Sabrina (3).

We finished Wintersmith last night. We would have finished the night before, but about fifteen pages before the end, I noticed a distinct lack of questions at the obscure bits and giggles at the the Nac Mac Feegle bits coming from the bed above me (Alanah sleeps in a loft bed we’ve built above Sabrina’s bed).

So last night I went back about ten pages, and then finished the book. I think it’s safe to say that Alanah’s favourite part of the last part is when Rob Anybody confronts his ‘heroic’ task of reading a book:

“Where’s mah coo?” he read. “Is that mah coo? It gaes cluck! It is
a…a…chicken! It is no’ mah coo! An’ then there’s this wee paintin’ o’ a
couple o’ chickens. That’s another page, right?”

“It is indeed, Rob,” said Billy Bigchin.

There was a cheer from the assembled Feegles as Rob ran around the book, waving his hands in the air

It took a second reading for her to recognise it, but then a huge grin appeared on her face as she realised where it was from. It’s from the book Where’s My Cow, the children’s book Pratchett created for Samuel Vimes to read to his son in Thud.  My kids got me Where’s My Cow for me for father’s day a few years ago, they were thrilled to be able to buy me a book that actually looked interesting for a change, instead of those boring books with only words in that Mummy buys for me!

Sarah now assures me she’s spent the rest of the day yelling “Where’s ma coo!!!”

Sarah & I managed to coordinate the ending of our books, so while I’m moving on to I Shall Wear Midnight, the next book in the Tiffany series, she’ll be starting reading Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie’s Song that they got from the library.

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