Publisher: RHCB Digital (Random House Children’s Books)
Edition: Kindle (Amazon UK)
A Hat Full Of Sky is the second of the Tiffany Aching ‘series’ set in Pratchett’s Discworld, and in true Pratchett style it’s every bit as sharp, funny and heartwarming as I’ve come to expect from his books. I said in my review of The Wee Free Men that these are the books I’d read to children if I had them, and it bears repeating here. I read this as part of a recent Read-Along, and those posts do a good job of expressing what I think of this book, but I’ll try to sum it all up here.
This story sees Tiffany Aching beginning to come of age, or at least get a little older and wiser since the events in The Wee Free Men, and this time she’s facing a greater threat than before – the Hiver, an ancient creature who can enter sentient minds and control bodies, crosses paths with the young witch while she’s being trained in the ways of witchcraft by Miss Level, an elderly witch who lives in the mountains near Tiffany’s home on the Chalk. Havoc ensues, mostly involving a group of young witches not unlike Tiffany herself – though some of the local adults don’t get left out of it either. This story also gives us a turn from Mistress (Granny!) Weatherwax, who teaches Tiffany the really valuable lessons about being a witch…
More than a story about peril and daring rescues (though thanks to the return of Rob Anybody and the Nac Mac Feegles, there is enough of that for the laughs I’ve come to expect), this is, to me, a story about the awkwardness of growing up and trying to make friends when it’s clear that you don’t quite fit in. Anybody who knows what that’s like and how it can feel will no doubt sympathise with Tiffany; I know I did. But at the heart of it all is the truth that, no matter how different you are or why, sometimes you’re just a person like everyone else. Sometimes you do good things, and sometimes you make mistakes – but who doesn’t?
This is what Pratchett does best – why settle for just telling a story when you can teach a lesson at the same time? Pratchett teaches these lessons with a wonderful insightfulness and empathy, even while he provides those sneaky comedy moments that I’ve always loved the Discworld books for. Every time I read one of his books, I’m reminded of exactly why he’s my favourite author, and Tiffany’s stories are perfect examples to hold up. I wish I’d been able to read them when I was her age!
This might be a short review after all – all I really have to say here is that I absolutely love this book, and thoroughly recommend it. If you’ve already read it, you can check back for my posts on the Readalong questions and answers for my favourite moments, and what I thought of the story itself. So! Whether you’re twelve, sixteen, twentysomething, thirtysomething, or even older, there is a tale here worth reading – and, perhaps, even a lesson worth learning.