The Time-travelling Caveman

By: Terry Pratchett

In a collection of 18 children’s stories, Pratchett takes his young readers on adventures through time and space. Inspired by his career as a junior reporter at his local newspaper, The Time-travelling Caveman is full of tales that hold onto a grain of truth while transporting us into different realities.

Did I read a collection of children’s stories because I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan? Yes. Was I as enthused about the contents of this book as I am for the Discworld novels? No, but I also recognize that I am not the intended age for these tales.

That said, were I a child reading these stories, I don’t believe I would have found them particularly interesting or memorable. Pratchett’s cleverness is lost in translation when he isn’t allowed to be perverse or overly sarcastic. He was an incredible satirist, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he had a knack for children’s literature. I find it fair for me to rate these stories even if they aren’t intended for me because adults often read books to their children and therefore similarly experience them.

My favorite story was “Lemonade on the Moon” about a trio of children that must hide that they beat NASA in the great space race of the 1960s. I also enjoyed “The Time-travelling Caveman,” “Bason and the Hugonauts,” and “The Bed Scratcher.” As those are only 4 of the 18 total stories, you can see I wasn’t a fan of most of the book.

Relating to characters is vital for any age of reader but especially for children. Adults that are avid readers typically started that way as kids after being introduced to novels that they connected with. Stories that made them want to keep reading. Holding a child’s attention is difficult, so books need to ensure that the story is interesting but also that the child cares about the characters on a personal level. They must see themselves in those characters. Thinking back on myself as a child, I don’t think I would have related to these characters much at all.

Perhaps I am reading too much into this point as well, but this collection of stories was published in 2020 which was 5 years after Pratchett’s death. It feels as if someone took very rough copies of stories they found from him, tried to clean them up, and turned them into a book. Something is just off about them. The illustrations were cute though.

Overall rating: 2.5

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