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Roverandom Paperback – June 30, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5-Begun in 1925, this fantasy was roughly finished later, but set aside in favor of sequels to The Hobbit. Here, at last, two Tolkien scholars present it, with five illustrations by the author sandwiched between a long, minutely detailed introduction and padded but sometimes illuminating endnotes. Changed from a live dog into a toy after incautiously biting a wizard, Rover is dropped on the beach by his young owner, where he meets a second wizard who sends him on a gull's back to the Man-in-the-Moon. Sporting wings and a new name, "Roverandom" irritates the Great White Dragon that causes lunar eclipses and visits a valley where sleeping children gather for pleasant dreams, among other places, then returns to Earth to beg the first wizard, a bumbling sort who has since married a mermaid and moved under the ocean, to make him a real dog again. Despite a wandering plot and minor inconsistencies, the old Tolkien magic is here in full force: in evocative names, glimpses of supernal events, and wonderfully exotic locales seen through the eyes of a comfortably familiar character. Enthusiasts will pore over the notes, but the story stands well enough on its own as an incidental piece from one of our century's great literary imaginations.
John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4 and up, younger for reading aloud. This previously unpublished story chronicles the adventures and life lessons of a very engaging young dog named Roverandom, who makes the mistake of being insolent to a passing wizard. To teach the dog a lesson, the offended wizard turns Roverandom into a toy dog, frozen in a perpetual begging position, frustratingly small and without a real bark. As he begins his determined quest to become a real dog again, Roverandom faces experiences that are humbling, eye-opening, and exciting, from a trip to the moon, where he faces the Great White Dragon, to under the sea, where he confronts both the adversarial Sea-serpent and the ill-tempered wizard who originally cast the spell (and who gets his own just desserts at the end). The tale will appeal to readers of all ages, with its detailed descriptions of fantastical landscapes, its snippety, rival wizards, and its creative characters, all described with Tolkien's trademark droll wit and humor, and enhanced by his few but charming drawings. Short, riveting chapters make this a great read-aloud book, and as with all good Tolkien tales, there's a lesson to be drawn: mind your p's and q's. The wordy but comprehensive and interesting introduction to the novel, which was originally written to comfort Tolkien's four-year-old son following the loss of a beloved toy, includes some fascinating information about the author and his family, a boon for educators, parents, and Tolkienphiles. Extensive endnotes clarify Tolkien's satirical references to the politics and society of his times and explain the many mythological characters. A delightful story for fans of Tolkien, fantasy, and myth, featuring the irresistible, sympathetic, and comic Roverandom, a classic character in his own right. Shelle Rosenfeld --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395957990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395957998
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892.1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. His chief interest was the linguistic aspects of the early English written tradition, but even as he studied these classics he was creating a set of his own.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
For a little kid, losing a favorite toy is downright traumatic. So in 1925, when four-year-old Michael lost his little toy dog on the beach, fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien made up a story to comfort his son. It explained away the loss of the toy, and wove a magical story around a little dog named Rover.
Rover is an ordinary little puppy near the seaside in England, until he runs into a grumpy old man and ends up biting off part of his pants. The old man happens to be a wizard (Artaxerxes by name), and promptly transforms Rover into a toy dog (and no, I don't mean a tiny dog -- I mean a real toy). Rover subsequently gets picked up and sold to some little boys (presumably the Tolkien kids).
Fortunately, Rover encounters another magical being, a crusty, kindly sand-wizard named Psamathos. That wizard, in turn, gets Rover (who is renamed Roverandom) flown to the moon, where he spends time with the Man in the Moon and his winged dog Rover. And then he's heading off to encounter a talking whale, a mer-dog, a sea serpent -- and a dragon.
Like the vastly underrated "Farmer Giles of Ham," "Roverandom" is a charming little bit of whimsy. No deep themes, no epic clashes, not even really a villain. The writing is charming and magical, with phrases like "There was a cold wind blowing off the North Star" sprinkled through it. It almost gives the feeling of being in another world. Best of all, in the middle of the book are Tolkien's own illustrations, cute little drawings and ethereal paintings.
Rover is well-named, since his adventures are all over the map and don't really progress from one to the other. It's merely a cute little dog roaming over the moon, the ocean, and the land, conversing with shrimps and bothering wizards.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
To those who would criticize this lovable little book I say, "Understand a work before you judge it." Maybe you just didn't know, but Tolkien wrote this book to be read aloud to small children. Similarly, The Hobbit was actually written to be read with children. Roverandom is NOT Lord of the Rings, but it is a very good, enthralling little story...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Roverandom takes place once upon a time in England. The main character in this story is Rover (Roverandom). The other main characters are Artaxerxes, Psamathos, the Man-in-the-Moon, the moon-dog Rover, Mew, Two, and the mer-dog Rover.
The conflict was that Rover (Roverandom) was turned into a toy dog by the old magician Artaxerxes, and then sold to a little boy named Two. Rover then runs away hoping to be free but then runs into the wizard Psamathos who sends Roverandom on many journeys and he meets many new friends. But Rover longs to become a real dog again and hopes to find the magician.
My favorite character probably was the Man-in-the-Moon's dog Rover because he kept Roverandom company while on the Moon, even though they argued some. And because it is very unusual for a dog to live on the moon so it makes Rover extra special to me. I think this is a fun little book that all ages would enjoy. Tolkien orginally wrote Roverandom 70 years ago to comfort his 4-year-old son Michael who lost his favorite toy dog on the beach. Tolkien started to write this book after The Hobbit was published, and he stopped to begin writing The Lord of the Rings. So in 1998 Roverandom was finally published. This book would make a great read aloud book for kids and adults of all ages to enjoy.
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