The Wee Free Men



Delightful but too violent for young kids.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Nac Mac Feegle frequently lie and steal.


Lots of fighting and brawling and, of course, bonking with a frying pan. Potentially scary monsters and situations, but the tone is light.


A scene where the tiny Nac Mac Feegle discuss the difficulty of making babies with Tiffany.


Lots of swearing, but all the words are made up, as in "!"

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The Nac Mac Feegle drink and get drunk often. Granny Aching smokes a pipe.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that if you like doing accents and voices, this could be a great read-aloud.

What's the story?

Tiffany Aching lives on a farm, is good at making cheese, and is a girl of uncommon sense. She also dreams of becoming a witch (\"She preferred the witches to the smug handsome princes and especially to the stupid smirking princesses, who didn't have the sense of a beetle.\").

The Wee Free Men are the Nac Mac Feegle, tiny, redheaded, blue men in kilts, who speak in a thick Scottish brogue Pratchett invented for them, specialize in \"stealin' and drinkin' and fightin'\", and are perfectly described by one Amazon customer as \"foul-mouthed Scottish smurfs.\"

Tiffany sets out to rescue her baby brother, who has been kidnapped by the Queen of Fairyland, armed only with an iron frying pan and a book of sheep diseases, and accompanied by the brawling, boisterous Nac Mac Feegle. But more than her brother is at stake. This Fairyland is not the nice kind, full of buttercups and Tinkerbelles; it is a place of endless winter where nightmares come true, and where a person can be trapped in a dream forever. And it is encroaching on Discworld, threatening to absorb it.

A witch named Miss Tick offers Tiffany some terrific advice: \"If you trust in yourself ... and believe in your dreams ... and follow your star ... you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.\"

Is it any good?


Pratchett has an uncanny ability to create an unusual and creative adventure. He then combines it with layers of symbolism, myth, and cultural detail, and then wraps the whole package in the kind of sparkling wit that rewards intelligence and careful reading. There's a reason he's such a favorite with gifted children and teens; as with his other novels, readers will come away from this feeling that they've had something to chew on, a full and varied banquet, not the usual thin gruel of ordinary stories.

There are many delightful creations here, primarily, of course, the Nac Mac Feegle themselves. Whenever they're on stage, the story fairly sizzles with wit and invention. Equally wonderful, though in a very different way, are the flashbacks to Tiffany's Granny Aching, an old sheepherder whose hardheaded wisdom is the product of a life lived in the chalk hills, and is reflected in her granddaughter. And Tiffany herself, busily clanging monsters with her frying pan while wondering about magic, is a more than winning heroine.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about some of the more difficult parts of the story, as well as its clever humor. Who's your favorite character? Why?

Book details

Author:Terry Pratchett
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:April 29, 2003
Number of pages:263

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byZaphrodite August 28, 2010

Don't get the book with Pictures

I guess I would probably say that it's a teen book, but I had the one with graphic pictures of creepy monsters, but I guess if you had the one without all the scary pics it would be fun to read aloud. "Ach crivins!"
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byBrian Baier June 19, 2013

Encourages Thoughtfulness and Practicality in Children

When I read this book to my girls, at ages 5 and 9, the older one loved it and the younger was often entertained (especially by the Feegle dialogue). I've now read to them all four of the Tiffany Aching books, which do become more mature as the lead character ages, somewhat similar in that fashion to the Harry Potter books. With a few pauses to explain certain plot points in age-appropriate context, the wit and humanity remain strong throughout the series, and I highly recommend starting here for your own bright-minded children.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent Written byoharring October 21, 2012

FABULOUS read-aloud book for 3rd-5th graders

While it does portray some of the characters drinking and fighting a little bit, it shows it as something that makes them act like idiots and certainly doesn't glamorize it at all. Tiffany is a GREAT role model in that she thinks for herself and doesn't allow herself to be pigeonholed.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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