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4.5 out of 5 stars
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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 The unpublished works of favorite authors nearly always disappoint.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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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. He's an outspoken little guy, but likeable. The grumpy wizards are also excellently done, reminiscent of Gandalf.
While "Roverandom" is a book aimed at children, adults may enjoy the whimsical humor and beautiful writing. A charming and timeless story.
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on May 2, 1998
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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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 January 14, 2004
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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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 December 16, 2001
Nor, do I think, was it intended to be. There is no battle between Good and Evil. The characters are not larger than life. It is not a morality tale (unless you're in the habit of biting the trousers of strange wizards). This story seemed to me more A.A. Milne than Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.
The title is perfect. The adventures of Rover are pretty darn random. But you've ever worked with first graders, you know that a child's world (and mind) is filled with randomness. The humor is delightfully British. Take for instance, this excerpt in which Rover (after being turned into a toy and bought by the mother) is taken home in a bag with various other purchased items (bear in mind that, at this early point in the story, Rover is a rather cheeky little pup):
"Rover soon managed to wriggle his head out of the paper. He smelt cake. But he found he could not get at it; and right down there among the paper bags he growled a little toy growl. Only the shrimps heard him, and they asked him what was the matter. He told them all about it, and expected them to be very sorry for him, but they only said:
'How would you like to be boiled? Have you ever been boiled?'
'No! I have never been boiled, as far as I remember,' said Rover, 'though I have sometimes been bathed, and that is not particularly nice. But I expect boiling isn't half as bad as being bewitched.'
'Then you have certainly never been boiled,' they answered. 'You know nothing about it. It's the very worst thing that could happen to anyone - we are still red with rage at the very idea.'
Rover did not like the shrimps, so he said: 'Never mind, they will soon eat you up, and I shall sit and watch them!'
After that the shrimps had no more to say to him, and he was left to lie and wonder what sort of people had bought him."
Yes, this is a children's book. But I bought and read it halfway through a very grueling masters program, and it was just the escape from academia that I needed. It's absurd, and silly, and light-hearted, and absolutely wonderful. I recommend it for children of all ages, especially the grown up children who need a quick breath of magic to liven up the reality of adulthood.
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on September 20, 1998
This book was a delight for my 10-year-old (and me), even after already having read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. A clever, enchanting story with lots of fun and unexpected twists. Our thanks to whoever found this "lost" work.
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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 October 30, 2015
I was pleasantly surprised by this cute story. You know when you like an author's books so much that you have high hopes for their other works? This one, happily doesn't fall short. It's full of entertaining little adventures and interactions between wizards and dogs and other creatures. It's no Lord of the Rings, but still a fun read!
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