Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Jennwith2ns today, I read of the passing last week of Lloyd Alexander, the author of some truly wonderful literature for children. Jenn has a beautiful homage to him, not merely as a writer, but as someone she knew personally.

I don't remember exactly when it was that I was introduced to his Prydain Chronicles, but I remember well the impact those books had on my young imagination. I am blessed in that my mother was at that time (and really still is) a children's librarian, and I distinctly recall her bringing home one of them, probably "The Book of Three," for me to read. This would be the very late 60's or early 70's. I wonder if, at her house, she still has these books on her shelf. I will look next time I'm there.

Long before I was to read The Chronicles of Narnia, The Legends of King Arthur, or The Hobbit, these books translated me into the amazing time and world of Taran, the young peasant pig-keeper who wanted so desperately to be a hero and to have great adventures. I read and reread that whole series and I, too, wanted to be a hero like that and go on a great quest. The writing is beautiful, compelling, descriptive, and rich in fantasy, but it also resonates deeply with what it means to be a young person trying to figure what kind of life may lie ahead.

I read today that Mr. Alexander wrote many other children's books but, honestly, I don't remember them. These are the titles that I loved:
  • The Book of Three (1964)
  • The Black Cauldron (1965) -1966 Newbery Honor Winner
  • The Castle of Llyr (1966)
  • Taran Wanderer (1967)
  • The High King (1968) - 1969 Newbery Medal Winner

I may have to read these all again. I suspect they will hold up very well, even after all these years. RIP, Mr. Alexander.

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