The first Discworld
novel by Terry Pratchett
written for young readers. It tells the story of Maurice, a talking cat, and his travelling entourage
of thinking rats and a young man generally referred to as The Stupid-Looking Kid.
The rats travel from town to town simulating a plague of rats, at which uncomfortable juncture the stupid looking kid steps in with his pipe and, for a modest fee, leads them all into the river (rats are excellent swimmers, but the people who tell the stories haven't seemed to twig yet). Maurice, who considers himself the only one with half a brain in this thinking talking menagerie, acts as something of an agent and impresario for this travelling show.
But in this latest town things seem different. There is already a plague of rats when they get there, for one thing. What makes this odd is that, contrary to the evidence, there don't seem to be any rats. As the story unfold the thinking rats, in their befuddled quest for more and better thoughts to think about, must come to terms with a new one - Evil.
The cast of characters is vintage Pratchett - from the stupid looking Kid who's not so stupid, to the tap dancing Sardines, complete with cane and little straw hat with holes for his ears, to the Mayor of the town. All are drawn with care and affection, endearing warts and all, and are set lovingly in a story which is perfect for kids and pretty damn good for adults, too.