Terry Pratchett,
Johnny and the Bomb
(Doubleday, 1996; Corgi, 1997)

Johnny Maxwell is back for another adventure in Blackbury in Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Bomb. Still hilariously funny, as Pratchett novels tend to be, this third book in the series adds a few more serious undertones to the tale. For one, there's the bombing of Blackbury during World War II, a small chapter in time which becomes very real to a 13-year-old boy doing a project. And there's the ongoing problem of racism, which continues today, often unconsciously, in the attitudes of so many well-meaning people.

Pratchett wraps racism and war up in a very funny package, giving readers reason to think about a few important matters while still tickling their funnybones with his usual trademark wit. Johnny discovers a "time lorry," a bag-lady's means of circumventing the usual linear flow of history, and is then stuck with the dilemma of leaving history as is or taking action to try and save some Blackbury residents who, in 1941, were in the wrong place when the Luftwaffe flew overhead. Plus, there's the small matter of Johnny's friend Wobbler, who inadvertently ensures that his grandfather will never meet his grandmother....

It's been a few years since Pratchett ventured back into Johnny's odd little world. I hope Johnny and the Bomb isn't the last we'll see of Johnny and his friends -- this cast of characters and their wonderful misadventures are too good to lie fallow for long!

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 12 January 2002

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