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When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne--a traveler from the other side of the globe--is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.
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Gr 7-10-In this first novel for young people set outside of Discworld, Pratchett again shows his humor and humanity. Worlds are destroyed and cultures collide when a tsunami hits islands in a vast ocean much like the Pacific. Mau, a boy on his way back home from his initiation period and ready for the ritual that will make him a man, is the only one of his people, the Nation, to survive. Ermintrude, a girl from somewhere like Britain in a time like the 19th century, is on her way to meet her father, the governor of the Mothering Sunday islands. She is the sole survivor of her ship (or so she thinks), which is wrecked on Mau's island. She reinvents herself as Daphne, and uses her wits and practical sense to help the straggling refugees from nearby islands who start arriving. When raiders land on the island, they are led by a mutineer from the wrecked ship, and Mau must use all of his ingenuity to outsmart him. Then, just as readers are settling in to thinking that all will be well in the new world that Daphne and Mau are helping to build, Pratchett turns the story on its head. The main characters are engaging and interesting, and are the perfect medium for the author's sly humor. Daphne is a close literary cousin of Tiffany Aching in her common sense and keen intelligence wedded to courage. A rich and thought-provoking read.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

When Mau returns home from his coming-of-age quest, he finds that a tsunami has wiped out his entire people. Also on the island is a shipwreck survivor, Ermintrude, an English miss now calling herself Daphne. Daphne does not know that she, too, is one of the last of her line. At home, in an alternate 19th-century Britain, a plague has all but destroyed the royal succession. Now her father is king and desperate to find her. Together Mau and Daphne work to rebuild some form of civilization, leading a ragtag group of other survivors who make their way to their island "nation." Why It Is a Best: The author's mix of absurd humor and rollicking adventure sugarcoats his larger theme: how do you build again when everything you know-your security, your idols, and your culture-is stripped away? Why It Is for Us: At times, Pratchett stops the action to ruminate on the relationship between humans and the gods, familiar stuff for fans of his Good Omens (1990). Readers of a certain age will wonder whether he went to the Monty Python school of comedy-Gentlemen of Last Resort, cannibals from the Land of Many Fires, and regurgitating Grandfather birds abound.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In Carnegie Medalist Pratchett's (the Discworld novels; A Hat Full of Sky) superb mix of alternate history and fantasy, the king of England, along with the next 137 people in line to the throne, has just succumbed to the plague; the era might be akin to the 1860s or '70s. As the heir apparent is being fetched from his new post as governor of an island chain in the South Pelagic Ocean, his daughter, the redoubtable Ermintrude, still en route to join him in the South Pelagic, has been shipwrecked by a tsunami. She meets Mau, whose entire people have been wiped out by the great wave (he escaped their fate only because he was undergoing an initiation rite on another island). She and Mau each suffer profound crises of faith, and together they re-establish Mau's nation from other survivors who gradually wash up on shore and rediscover (with guidance from spirits) its remarkable lost heritage. Neatly balancing the somber and the wildly humorous in a riveting tale of discovery, Pratchett shows himself at the height of his powers. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"A rich and thought-provoking read." -- School Library Journal (starred review) "A wonderful story, by turns harrowing and triumphant."--New York Times Book Review "Pratchett's examination of questions about religious belief, the nature of culture and what it means to be human [...] is a terrific, thought-provoking book."--Washington Post Book World "A classic survival tale that offers laughs and much to mull over, this is a wonderfully entertaining novel." (starred review)--KLIATT A wonderful story, by turns harrowing and triumphant. --New York Times Book Review" Pratchett s examination of questions about religious belief, the nature of culture and what it means to be human [...] is a terrific, thought-provoking book. --Washington Post Book World" A searching exploration of good and evil, fate and free will, both as broad and as deep as anything this brilliant author has produced so far. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)" Neatly balancing the somber and the wildly humorous in a riveting tale of discovery, Pratchett shows himself at the height of his powers. --Publishers Weekly (starred review)" It is hard to imagine a reader who won t feel welcomed into this nation. --Horn Book (starred review)" Quirky wit and broad vision make this a fascinating survival story on many levels. --Booklist (starred review)" A rich and thought-provoking read. --School Library Journal (starred review)" A classic survival tale that offers laughs and much to mull over, this is a wonderfully entertaining novel. (starred review)--KLIATT" "A rich and thought-provoking read."--School Library Journal (starred review) "Quirky wit and broad vision make this a fascinating survival story on many levels."--Booklist (starred review) "It is hard to imagine a reader who won't feel welcomed into this nation."--Horn Book (starred review) "Neatly balancing the somber and the wildly humorous in a riveting tale of discovery, Pratchett shows himself at the height of his powers."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A searching exploration of good and evil, fate and free will, both as broad and as deep as anything this brilliant author has produced so far. "--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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