The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is the first young adult Discworld book. It was a short book, and a cute story, but I thought it was pretty substantial in terms of both plot and messages. The plot was certainly more substantial than many of his adult Discworld books. I didn’t think there was quite as much humor, but it had its funny moments.
The basic premise is that some of the rats in Ankh-Morpork, after eating magical rubbish dumped by the residents of the Unseen University, have become intelligent. They can talk in human speech, read, and think rationally. Maurice, a cat, has gained similar abilities. Maurice is, like most cats, opportunistic. He finds himself a “stupid-looking kid” who can play a pipe, and starts up a scam with the rats and the kid in which they all travel to various towns, the rats freak out the residents, and the stupid-looking kid plays the pipe and pretends he’s charming the rats into leaving the town. For a fee, of course. The story begins as they approach a new town where they plan to execute their scam. Things don’t go as planned.
I enjoyed the story pretty well. It had some fun characters, both of the human and non-human variety. I particularly liked Maurice, of course! Even though this may seem like a weird comparison to anybody who has read both books, I kept having flashbacks to Watership Down. The books are very different in most ways, but there were some similarities in tone and even a couple similar events. If I hadn’t read Watership Down so recently, I doubt I would have had the same reaction.