It was announced today that one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, died. Completely coincidentally (like, I’m a little freaked out that this is how this post is working out) I just finished reading his book The Carpet People. I have not extensively read Terry Pratchett’s work, but his books The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky were two that I read over and over and over again throughout my middle school and high school years. They have been comfort books for me and I imagine I’ll read them many more times, as good writing and good characters like Tiffany Aching and the little, but strong, Nac Mac Feegles never get old and never run out of lessons to teach me. The book I just finished, The Carpet People, just confirms that Terry Pratchett was one of the most talented and imaginative story tellers that I was lucky enough to be exposed to.
This book is actually the new edition of a story Terry Pratchett originally published in 1971. I’d be very curious to read the first edition and see how it has changed because he mentions in the Author’s Note that by the time they wanted to reprint (1992) he was a very different person and the changes he made were fairly significant. The end result however, is a fantastic story. The world in The Carpet People is pretty much what you’d expect out of a book with that title. There are no trees but there are hairs, the only metal comes from mining it out of a dropped penny, and they don’t know what’s underneath them, all they know is that just under the surface is “the floor”. These little nuggets of detail about the world were slipped in with talk about the politics, economics, and the importance of books and knowledge. It was genuinely delightful. I mean it. I was actually getting kind of giddy.
The Carpet People, like so many other books by Terry Pratchett, reminded me of the possibilities of imagination. It took me back to a time when I’d read a fantasy book and think to myself, “yeah, ok it’s fantasy, I guess…but what if…” The “what if” is so important. It’s the wonder that imagination provides that makes the world a little more exciting and a hell of a lot brighter. Terry Pratchett had a black belt imagination and the intelligence to put it together in a way that inspired and thrilled everybody that encountered his stories. He will be missed, but his stories will continue to help kids and adults alike to ask, what if?
I’m going to go ahead and inspect the carpet for just a few moments.
Common Place Book Entries
“If you don’t look after knowledge, it goes away.” -The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
“There’s always an afterword…The point is to get the afterword you want.” -The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett