The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a rollicking adventure by Terry Pratchett, involving magic and adventure. But hidden underneath the story of Maurice are seven secret references to some of the best stories ever written…
1. The Pied Piper
The whole basis of The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents comes from the old tale of the Pied Piper who comes into towns and uses his pipe to lead away rats, and then in the original story, children as well. The first line of Pratchett’s book is taken from a poem by Robert Browning about the Pied Piper and this theme comes up repeatedly. Pratchett cleverly turns the idea on its head by making the rats and the piper plot together against the townspeople, instead of the town scheming to get rid of the rats.
2. Peter Rabbit
Each chapter starts with a quote from a book that only exists within the story called Mr Bunnsy has an Adventure. This is based on the stories of Peter Rabbit and throughout the book we get descriptions of characters that sound very much like our favourite fictional bunnies including ‘a rabbit who walked on its hind legs and wore a blue suit’. Sound familiar?
3. Dick Whittington
Dick Whittington is a rags-to-riches story of a man who sells his cat to hunt rats; he makes a lot of money and later becomes Mayor of London. In The Amazing Maurice, they tell the story of Dick Livingstone (a mix of Dick Whittington and Ken Livingstone, who really was the Mayor of London for a while) and how he became famous because his cat chased pigeons.
4. Alice in Wonderland
Maurice gives a nod to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland when he says ‘you know the kind of cat that grins all the time? Heard of that? Well, I’m the kind that makes, you know, weird faces’.
5. The Famous Five
In the book, Malicia Grim, the mayor’s daughter, brings to mind the escapades of The Famous Five when she says it is a shame she, Maurice, and Keith aren’t four children and a dog as that is the perfect number for an adventure.
6. The Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm wrote many of the most famous fairy tales including Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel, both of which are mentioned in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. As well as their stories being mentioned, the Brothers themselves are also alluded to when Malicia Grim references some relatives, the Sisters Grim, who write fairy tales.
7. Puss in Boots
As a book that centres on a clever, magical talking cat that schemes to cheat people to gain wealth, it would be odd if the story of Puss in Boots - a clever cat that used tricks to gain money - was not mentioned. At different points, the book and character are referenced both indirectly and by name. Maybe, just maybe, they’re distant relatives…
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Even wizards produce leftovers.
But a wizard’s rubbish is laced with magic, and for the rats that forage this rubbish, the magic has changed them – they can speak and read, and have rather grand ambitions for a comfortable retirement.
Which is perfect for a con-cat like Maurice. He has his own magical talents, and wants to get rich quick. Together with the rats, and young (rather simple) Keith, the ‘piper’, they work the towns to create their very own plague of rats - then lure them away for cash.
But in the run-down town Bad Blintz, this little con goes wrong, and suddenly these educated rodents aren’t playing to the piper’s tune . . .