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.
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 This previously unpublished story chronicles the adventures and life lessons of a very engaging young dog named Roverandom, who makes the mistake of being insolent to a passing wizard.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