Author: Terry Pratchett
Illustrator: Mark Beech
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Here be dragons. . . . Also pond monsters, abominable snowmen, and the dread Snorry. Within these pages, you will find brave explorers who travel great distances and brave untold dangers . . . even braving the vast inches of the Carpet and the Linoleum! You will meet knights and princes who approach their quests and tasks in, shall we say, an unconventional manner. Regardless of the adventure, you’re bound to find a sense of fun and quirky humor that’s sure to please.
I started reading Dragons at Crumbling Castle initially in memoriam to an incredible author who will be deeply missed by the literary world. While the reading was certainly bittersweet, it was also wondrously enjoyable. This book is a collection of short stories that were written and originally published in a newspaper when Pratchett was in his early twenties. The tales are delightful–full of wit, good humor, and a reckless, youthful abandon that is great fun to read. I would say the writing reminds me of other great children’s authors (Roald Dahl, Edith Nesbit, and Edward Eager in particular), although it retains Pratchett’s own unique flavor as well. I wish this book had been around when I was little. In this collection, which was just recently published, Pratchett added footnote commentary (mostly fun, slightly sarcastic side remarks to further explain or enhance the story) which is really interesting to read, showing both the development of the author over the years and the consistency of his writing throughout as well. Beech’s illustrations are a perfect fit for these stories–offbeat and quirky in a style that reminds me strongly of Quentin Blake’s work. Altogether, I would highly recommend Dragons at Crumbling Castle, especially as a fun book to read aloud with the children in your life–it would be a very fun book to share together.
Note: Normally, I don’t comment on the typography of a book, but I feel this book deserves comment. The majority of the text is set in a standard serif font, nothing special. But then you have random words and phrases on the page set in all sorts of random fonts, maybe one or two times on a two-page spread. It’s really striking and dynamic!