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on April 20, 1998
What a treat! The unpublished works of favorite authors nearly always disappoint. I pick them up in hopes of experiencing a fresh taste at an old table, only to find kitchen scraps intended for the garbage heap. This was not so with Roverandom. The story is a delight. The word play is delicious, with lots of rhyme, rhythm and rutabagas. Children love words like Persia and Pershore, Psamathos or Roverandom, for that matter, that they can roll around in their mouths like a handful of jelly beans. These remind me of the word play in the Alice books or a marvelous picture book I once read to my nephew about a woman named Euphonia. (I wish I could find it, or at least remember the title.) This is a children's book. However, it does not talk down to children, and it has lots of literary references most nine-year-olds would miss. These can be enjoyed by the older reader with a wink from Tolkien. I am at the awkward age. My children, in High school and collage, are too big or too busy to have children's books read to them. And I do not yet have grandchildren to regale with the wonder of books. When I grow out of this stage, Roverandom will certainly be on my list. Until then it makes splendid reading for a Summer afternoon.
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on February 7, 2001
Granted, this is a book written for Tolkien's children, and it does contain some nice little word-play elements -- but lets face it: This is not a literary masterpiece -- but niether is it trash either. With Tolkien's children's fiction, with the exception of THE HOBBIT, its not so much the quality of it but the fact that it exists. These activities culiminated in the composistion of THE HOBBIT. When Allen & Unwin accepted it for publication and it became a runaway hit, they wanted more about 'hobbits'. This book, MR. BLISS, THE LOST ROAD, and THE SILMARILLION (OF BEREN & LUTHIEN, the poetic form, was submitted with perhaps FARMER GILES as well)found its way to the publishing house in 1937. But Sir Stanely Unwin wanted not these but a hobbit sequel, of which we all know what happened with that.
This being said, ROVERANDOM shows Tolkien delighting in the position of a story teller for his children. The love and warmth shows clearly in these pages, and while its not the best thing ever written, it does have its charms. Largely, however, this work is for Tolkien completists, and by and large will not win over any fans. But if you looking for a book to read to your younger children and you want it to be Tolkien, this is a good choice. But if they're a little older, give 'em the real meat and introduce them to that lovable Bilbo Baggins. Its worth a look, but not necessarily a second or third.
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on February 1, 2001
In 1925, during a vacation on the Yorkshire coast, J.R.R. Tolkien's four-year-old son Michael lost his favorite toy dog. To console Michael, his father spun out a tale of where the toy dog had come from and where he went. This is that story.
A young dog named Rover is happily playing with his yellow rubber ball when he meets a cross old man. Rover sends the man on his way, tearing his trousers in the process. Sadly for Rover, the old man is Artaxerxes, a powerful wizard from Persia. (When Artaxerxes had become lost and asked for directions, someone had become confused and gave him directions to Pershore!) Artaxerxes turns Rover into a toy dog, and sends him off. This is the start of an epic quest for Rover, who meets a sand-wizard, the Man-in-the-Moon, the great dragons that live on the moon, the many merfolk living at the bottom of the ocean, and a delightful little boy.
This gentle story is quite entertaining. The story is wonderful in a slow, gentle way that seems irreproducible today. It is great for children. Complete with a group of illustrations drawn by the great J.R.R. himself, and some notes at the end to explain certain names and so forth, this is a great buy.
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on April 14, 1998
Why a ten for a book that is being panned by Kirkus? Why a ten when I only gave Moby Dick an 8 or so?
One must understand what the book is. It is a very delightful tale about a naughty puppy's adventures. For its intended audience- small children- it is a delight to read. My children find it a very happy book and look forward to hearing it.
I agree that it is light fare, but simply to attack this sweet, sincere little tale for children because it is not "literature" or "profound" seems hardly fair, and at worst mean-spirited. I laughed out loud when I read the first page, and that was with a bad sore throat and not feeling well, either.
In its peer group, it certainly outshines very hungry caterpillars and foxes in socks. Two thumbs up.
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on April 11, 1998
Roverandom is a sweet little book which would probably be best used as a read-aloud introduction to Tolkien for small children. It is neither profound, nor a masterpiece, but it is fun to read. It is the story of a puppy that is turned into a toy dog by a passing wizard, and his adventures as he tries to get back to real-dog-ness. This edition has extensive endnotes, almost to the point of being silly (they explain a reference to Humpty Dumpty!). But the endnotes are otherwise helpful and entertaining if you are curious about the current event allusions in the text. All in all, it is an entertaining book, and worth sharing with a young friend.
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on February 20, 2002
. . .written by a loving father to console a weeping boy.
On a seaside holiday with his family, Tolkien's 2nd child lost his toy dog on the beach. After hours of searching, it became clear that the toy was gone for good. Ever the master storyteller, Tolkien fashioned a tale about a little dog which annoys a magician and is turned into a toy and experiences all sorts of adventures under the sea and on the moon before being returned to his natural state and to his owner.
Lovers of Tolkien have long known of the existence of this manuscript and it is a joy to see it finally in print.
Wonderful for children of all ages. Highly recommended.
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on November 25, 2000
Roverandom is a flight of fancy written for Tolkien's children over several years as an explanation of what happened to his son's little lost toy dog. It is extremely light and silly, and generally good fun. Little Rover, a real dog turned into a toy, gets into various scrapes, lives with the Man in the Moon (and the Dog in the Moon) for a bit, and meets a whole lot of people with very silly names.
To get a feel for the style, it's really a lot more like the Father Christmas Letters than the Hobbit, and is full of Tolkien's scetches and paintings.
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on March 4, 2001
But I couldn't get past 40 pages before giving up. I know, it's a children's book, and Tolkien was busy with The Silmarillion (this book was finished in 1925, The Silimarillion started at 1919 and ended at 1973.), but the story's WAY TOO FAST! I couldn't finish this book without saying "Why? Why? Why did I read it?"
I'm giving it 2 stars because this is just Tolkien and it was just a children's story, way before his genius came into being in 1935 with The Hobbit.
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on May 20, 1999
I quite enjoyed Roverandum and thought it very enchanting and pleasant.It had lovely descriptions and very pleasing and interesting characters. Some may think it too cute or rather pale beside of The Lord of the Rings but you have to remember that this story was orginally written for a child.It reminded me of the Doctor Dolittle books which have also been called rather whimsy and cute. Anyway Roverandum is a nice little story, pure humor and enchantment.
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on September 15, 1998
Not that I disliked it; I just couldn't get into it. The characters seem to be introduced too fast and I didn't feel as if I knew enough about them to care. This book didn't have the pacing or, more importantly, the ambiance of The Hobbit; never mind anything else. If it had those two elements, I would have enjoyed it more. Still, the book had some nice imagery and dialogue and would be a good way to wean younger readers on Tolkien's later books.
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