So this thread is about Terry Pratchett's children's books and yet I see no thread on the Johnny Maxwell trilogy.... amazing!
Out of all of the non-Discworld settings Pratchett has created, this has easily got to be the best, remarkably so because it is firmly rooted in the present day real world (unlike Dodge or The Long Earth) and its protagonists are real people and not fantasy characters (such as those in the Bromeliad trilogy, good as it is).
Somehow Pratchett manages to capture all of the hopes, fears and humour of young adolescents and propel them through three amazing adventures culminating in, what I consider a masterpiece, Johnny and the Bomb (which in turn has curious references back to Discworld in Mrs Tachyon's - there's a term redolent of time travel - outburst 'Millenium, hand and shrimp').
Even JK Rowling with her merry band of Harry, Ron and Hermione, doesn't come close to Pratchett's keen observation of character and language, not to mention setting - and I bet he's never lived in any of the Northern towns I can immediately recognise as Blackbury (Rochdale seems to come pretty close, by the way).
If ever there was a plea, and it's probably far too late, it would be to Pratchett to go back to these characters and give us another tale based on this improbable band of kids - Johnny, Wobbler, Yoless, BigMac, and of course Kirsty - or whatever she's calling herself nowadays. I still wonder if Rowling's Hermione was based on her - there are so many similarities - although I'd take Kirsty any day.
I'd even go so far as to say if Pratchett really wanted to create real world characters that really grip us - which he didn't absolutely achieve in Dodger - he'd do far worse than to look back at the Johnny Maxwell books and take a lesson from them.
I would love to know where he got the idea for the books from... was he a bit of a Maxwell in this childhood? Did he know kids like this? He must have done. I even wonder if he lived in any of those towns in Yorkshire or Lancashire which seem so much like Blackbury.
Any comments anybody?