When news came of Terry Pratchett's passing, I realized I was woefully under-read in his works. Based on recommendations I saw in several different places, I snatched this one up from the library. It was delightful.
Apparently this is part of a much longer series (Discworld), but it's the first with Tiffany Aching, who at the story's start is an unusually poised 9-year-old who wants to become a witch. She's eminently qualified because she is able to use first and second thought (essentially to think about what she's thinking), though witches are unusual in a chalky world like Tiffany's. She's also an exceptional cheese-maker and reluctant caretaker of her toddler brother. But when a faerie queen from another real steals her brother, Tiffany has to go after her armed as best as she can with a bit of knowledge purchased from a visiting witch, and the wee free men (also known as "pictsies"), who are, frankly, hysterical.
I don't know that I loved the plot of this book as much as I loved the characters. I adored Tiffany. Though she's the same age as my oldest son, she felt a lot like a kindred spirit, like the kind of too-old kid that I was at that age. (Though I would not have been self-possessed enough to hammer a river monster in the face with a frying pan--or to stake my youngest brother as bait! Tempting though that would have been). And the wee free men were simply hilarious to read about.
I can easily see why Pratchett is so well-loved if this is representative of the rest of his books. I suppose I'll have to read more and find out . . .