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Visit Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

By Marissa Creamer

Rowan Public Library

Earlier this year, Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld fantasy series, succumbed to a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He left behind a magical world which rests on the backs of four giant elephants, all supported by the giant turtle Great A’Tuin as it swims its way through space.

Pratchett wrote his first Discworld novel, “The Color of Magic,” in 1983 as a way to “have fun with some of the clichés” of fantasy fiction. He went on to write more than 40 novels set in Discworld, including some for children and young adults, and in the 1990s was the bestselling author in the U.K.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett filled his humorous books with allusions to folklore and legend, literature and music. He parodied real-world subjects such as filmmaking, newspaper publishing, rock and roll music, opera, religion, philosophy, Ancient Greece, Egyptian history, the Gulf War, university politics, trade unions and the financial world.

Although Discworld is populated by a wide variety of life forms, including witches, ogres, dwarves, vampires, werewolves and the occasional talking dog, all of his characters have a basic humanity — in them you recognize yourself or someone you know.

There are a number of story arcs in the series, featuring some of Pratchett’s most memorable characters: Rincewind the inept wizard; The Luggage, the walking, man-eating suitcase capable of developing “a particularly malevolent look about its keyhole, the sort of look that says ‘Go on—make my day;’” the witches, crotchety, no-nonsense Granny Weatherwax (the trolls call her “She Who Must Be Avoided,”) and lively Nanny Ogg, possessor of “a grin that should have been locked up for the sake of public decency.”

The Watch stories feature Sam Vimes, the weary, long suffering policeman. The Librarian of Unseen University is a wizard who was transformed into an orangutan in a magical mishap, and refuses to be changed back as his new form is so useful in his work. And there is Death, who appears in the first few books as a classic grim reaper, but takes a central role in “Mort,” where the series really takes off.

Death goes about his duties astride a white horse named Binky, and has a bewildered fascination with humanity. He is also fond of cats, as we learn in this exchange from “Sourcery”: “ ‘I meant,’ said Ipslore bitterly, ‘what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?’ Death thought about it. ‘CATS,’ he said eventually. ‘CATS ARE NICE.’ ”

Pratchett also created Tiffany Aching, the young witch-in-training, who first appeared in the young adult title “The Wee Free Men” and stars in the very last Discworld novel, “The Shepherd’s Crown,” which was released in September. This is a culmination of the series, in which many earlier themes and characters appear for one last hurrah.

If you enjoy fantasy, humor and satire, you owe it to yourself to visit Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. It is not necessary to read the series in order. Although there are recurring characters, the stories stand on their own. You can find the Discworld series and other books by Terry Pratchett, including “Good Omens,” which he wrote with Neil Gaiman, and the science fiction series “The Long Earth,” which he co-authored with Stephen Baxter, at Rowan Public Library.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, Dec. 15, 6:30-8 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “Blueby Joyce Hostetter. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7841.

Reading with Ringling: Through Jan. 31, 2016. Children ages 2-12 may register at any library location to read and report on five books to receive a voucher for a ticket to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus Jan. 27-21, 2016, at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte. For information and program rules, call 704-216-8234 or visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

Cards for a Cause: All locations, Saturday, Nov. 28, 10 a.m.-noon. Families may make cards for service men and women. Mailboxes will be set up at all library locations Nov. 21-Dec. 5 to collect additional cards.

Excerpts from “The Nutcracker”: With Salisbury Symphony, Dec. 1, 6:30 p.m., headquarters. Ballerinas from Piedmont Dance Theatre join symphony members for a dance performance. Audience members may meet a ballerina after the program.

Martha Bassett in Concert: Headquarters, Dec. 8, 7-9 p.m. Her crystal tones and delivery move through swing, jazz, folk, country and rock. Sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library and Cheerwine. Program starts at 7, doors open at 6:30. Hear Bassett’s music at www.marthabassett.com.

‘Home Alone” movie: East, Dec. 22, 5-6:30 p.m. The classic comedy features an 8-year-old trying to protect his home from burglars when he is accidentally left home alone. Festive refreshments provided. Children must be accomapnied by an adult.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7 to 9 years old (first to third grade) can reserve a 15-minute session to read aloud to a therapy dog. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m., Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, Dupree; Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, Oliver. 10 a.m. Saturdays, headquarters, Dec. 12. East, Mondays, 3:30 p.m., Nov. 23 , Dec. 7 and 21, Oliver.

Lego Saturdays: The library’s Lego collection will be available for children to play; all times 10 a.m.-noon. Headquarters, Nov. 28.

Winter tradition: Headquarters, Dec. 2, 10:30 a.m.-noon. For children 3 and up to learn about different winter holiday traditions from different religions and cultures. Sponsored by Smart Start Rowan.

RoBoJo Holiday Show: Headquarters, Dec. 5, 2-3:30 p.m. RoBoJo Theatre Troupe returns for the 16th annual Holiday Theatre. A crew of local actors will join library children’s staff for an hour-long variety show of skits, songs, readers’ theatre and audience participation.

Holiday Stories with the Elves from the East: East Branch, Rockwell, Dec. 5, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Join Santa’s helpers for Christmas stories and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Refreshments, crafts and music. Call 704-216-7842.

Holiday Pajama Express: South, China Grove. Dec. 8, 6-7:30 p.m. Hop on board for an evening of fun, refreshments and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Wear your favorite holiday pajamas. Call 704-216-7729 for details.

TREEmendous Christmas Party: Headquarters, Dec. 16, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Special Christmas storytime with holiday fun, crafts, refreshments and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bring your camera.

Teen program: Middle and high school teens. 5:30-7 p.m. Thanksgiving in a Jar, create Thanksgiving themed crafts and food in a jar, East, Nov. 23.

Holiday Hangtime Teen program: Dec. 15, 5:30-7 p.m., headquarters. Enjoy a holiday movie and free popcorn.

Displays: Headquarters, Photowalk photos and International Game Day; South, Rowan Doll Society; East, “It’s a Wonderful Life” Christmas village.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

Weekly events for children through Nov. 30.

Baby Time: Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.

Tiny Tumblers: South, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; 30 minutes.

Preschool Time: Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Noodle Head Story Time: Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Mondays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Children 8 and under must be accompanied by an adult; 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Emma’s Easel, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Art with Char, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

 

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