A HAT FULL OF SKY
Tiffany Aching, wise beyond her 11 years, is off to apprentice herself to a witch. She may have bested the Queen of the Fairies, but she has a lot to learn about real witchcraft. So she leaves behind her beloved land of the Chalk, her family and her tiny, cantankerous companion, the pictsie [sic] Nac Mac Feegle.
The apprenticeship isn't quite what she expects, however. Her mistress, Miss Level, is one person in two bodies (which gets a little confusing), and her tasks include more floor-scrubbing and goat-tending than Tiffany expected. But when Tiffany is taken over by a hiver, an invisible, malicious entity drawn to powerful magic, it seems no one—not the Wee Free Men, not Miss Level, not the Greatest Witch in the World—can save her.
Part slapstick, part suspense, part coming-of-age tale, this is another winning Discworld story from the highly imaginative and slightly warped mind of Pratchett. This installment maintains all the momentum of The Wee Free Men, as Tiffany faces greater peril and learns more about herself and her world. Pratchett cleverly hides an important message among the adventures and wordplay; it's clear Tiffany is learning that to know herself, she must accept her flaws as well as her strengths, but the reader never feels whacked over the head with the message. Sly humor, twisted plots and a forthright writing style hold appeal for all ages. (May, 288 pp., $16.99)