A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book offers a different view of learning magic -- it consists mainly of common sense, doing what needs to be done, and taking care of others. Other issues include the responsibility of the strong for the weak and infirm, and susceptibility to dominant peers. There's a bit of fantasy fighting, too, and mild use of substances (drinking and smoking a pipe), though not by children.
What's the story?
Tiffany Aching, the levelheaded heroine of The Wee Free Men leaves the Chalk to head off into the mountains and begin her apprenticeship in witchcraft, while Rob Anybody, the leader of the Nac Mac Feegle, settles down to married life with the new Kelda. If that doesn't make any sense to you, then you can see why you need to read the first book first.
But there's a strange, invisible creature called a Hiver that's after Tiffany. Drawn by her growing power, it lives by taking over the bodies of powerful sorcerers, and only the Nac Mac Feegle know it's coming. But the new Kelda, jealous of Tiffany, doesn't want to let them leave the Chalk to rescue her.
Is it any good?
Terry Pratchett's view of witchcraft is as down-to-earth as Tiffany. Primarily it consists of helping others, though for the really great witches, like Tiffany's Granny Aching, it means making them help one another, and themselves. There's a bit of magic too, and herbalism, and broomstick riding -- but Tiffany gets broomsick, so that's not much help.
This sequel is very entertaining, humorous, and moves along quite nicely. But it lacks the rollicking action and broad slapstick humor, both physical and verbal, of its predecessor. Mostly what it lacks is enough of the Feegles. Whenever these drinking, stealing, fighting pictsies are on stage, the fun picks right up. One group of children having The Wee Free Men read to them cheered every time the Feegles appeared in the story. But here they're missing from whole great swaths of the book, and the reader misses them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this book works as a sequel to The Wee Free Men. Did you read the first book? If so, how would you compare it to this one? (And if not, do you want to read the first book now?) What's your interpretation of the title A Hat Full of Sky? What do you think it means?