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Group Reads - Amazing Maurice > General Thoughts -- With Spoliers

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

We'll start discussing this book on March 1.

message 2: by Marissa (new)

Marissa | 22 comments Terry Pratchett, in his always hilarious and genius way, has outlined an issue in this book which has troubled many - the way we present the world to our children versus the way it really is. Like showing "Bambi" to your kids if Dad is a deer hunter. Like concentrating on the Thanksgiving feast and not smallpox blankets. Like so many more contradictions we feed to children and they realize are false later on. He deals with many of these contradictions in Hogfather, but The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents deals with them in a different way. The lovely myth of talking, clothing-wearing animals while we trap, shoot, or test horrible things on those same animals. I think it's amazing he makes this contradiction so clear in what is technically a "children's" book.
There are so many things to discuss here. The girl who wants to turn the world into a story. The boy who takes things as they are, even when they are unbelievable. The rats who have been thrust into taking things as they are, but still want to cling to the story. The cat who takes advantage of the stories already lodged in people's heads.
And if animals, in the real world, could suddenly really talk, could communicate in any way that was comprehensible to us, would we really try to treat them any differently?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow, a lot to consider. This whole book makes me think about what it means to be human and how we view the other sentient beings all around us that are not human. We put human characteristics onto storybook animals, like Peter Rabbit, and we portray gamboling farm animals, but we don't stop to think about them not being so happy to end up on our tables for lunch.

And I've seen people who are cruel to animals. Would people still be cruel to animals if they could speak. Some still would, I suppose. And then there are so many people who love animals, and their pets in particular, who would be thrilled to be able to talk to their pets.

message 4: by Barbm1020 (last edited Mar 11, 2010 01:25PM) (new)

Barbm1020 | 145 comments To me, the great thing about the rats in this story is that they rise above their former lives. These rats have learned to function much like people, having been enhanced by eating magical waste from UU. And like people, they have been duped into joining a racket led by Maurice, an enhanced cat. Maurice thinks of "his" rats as workers only, that he uses to promote his rat-piping racket. The rats, however, undergo some pretty big changes as to how they see themselves and Maurice during this story. I like the way Maurice is portrayed. He is very catlike and yet he is very much like the criminals in human society who use others to do their dirty work. I am thinking of the young kids who learn to steal cars and deliver drugs sell their bodies for the enrichment of higher-income criminals, because they can make a fast buck, at an age when they haven't yet realized that life can be more than a fast buck and that they can be more than stooges. The rats are like the kids. But the rats do learn, and once more I have to hand the prize to TP who always makes it work out OK in the end. They even learn to see the unimproved rats, the "keekees" as worth saving. Humans don't always get that far in their mental and moral understandings. Hooray for Dangerous Beans and Darktan! I loved the scene where Death comes for D.B. and Maurice finds it within his feline soul to sacrifice one of his extra lives so that D.B. can live. Death is quite a negotiator in the Terry Pratchett universe, isn't he?

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, Barb, you have brought up quite a few good points. TP always makes us think about so many things, all in a humorous package. Maurice was a hustler and the rats his markers. But, the rats moved on and Maurice went looking for a new human to manipulate. The scene with Death and DB shows that Maurice is more than his nature, when he's up against the wall, so to speak.

I call this book "existentialism for kids". :)

message 6: by Barbm1020 (new)

Barbm1020 | 145 comments Well said, Jeannette!

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