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Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander Children's fantasy author(1924-2007)
Lloyd Alexander wrote fantasy for children. Here are some of his awards:
• The High King: 1969 Newbery Medal for children’s literature, finalist for the National Book Award and the American Book Award
• The Black Cauldron: 1966 Newberry Honor, the basis for the Disney film The Black Cauldron
• Taran Wanderer: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
• Westmark: 1982 American Book Award, ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Time Cat: Lloyd Alexander’s first book

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander

Published way back in 1963, Time Cat was the first book ever written by Lloyd Alexander, and as such, exists as an interesting comparison to many of his later books, with echoes of plots and characters that will later be used in his more famous and sophisticated works. It is quite a simplistic book, with a straightforward story told in clear but sparse prose, but there are certainly traces of the excellence that is to come in Alexander's later books, particularly the award-winning The Prydain Chronicles.

Jason has been sent to his bedroom in disgrace, only to find that his black, orange-eyed cat can talk! Gareth informs him that rather than the oft-believed saying that cats have nine lives, it is in fact the ability to visit nine lives that make cats so... Read More

The Book of Three: Our very highest recommendation

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander's fantastic five-part Chronicles of Prydain begins with The Book of Three, which is required reading for anyone who considers themselves a fantasy fan and/or a lover of children's literature — or in fact anyone who loves a darn good book. And you can't stop there — make sure you have on hand the following volumes: The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King. Three of them have won or been nominated for the Newbery Award, and are loved by readers all over the world; they belong on the shelf next to The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of ... Read More

The Black Cauldron: Mystery, suspense, adventure, and intrigue

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

The Black Cauldron is the second in Lloyd Alexander's five-part Chronicles of Prydain, and possibly the most well known. When discussing these books with other people, you'll usually get a blank look if you say "the Prydain books" or The Book of Three, but if you mention The Black Cauldron, you'll probably get a vague sense of recognition. It is a Newbery Honor book and was made into a Disney film, and as such is the most popular of all five books.

A few seasons since the events in The Book of Three have passed, and the old enchanter Dallben has called together a secret council to make war against the Death-Lord Arawn. Traveling to the small cotta... Read More

The Castle of Llyr: Put The Chronicles of Prydain on your child’s book shelf

The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander's five-part The Chronicles of Prydain is essential reading for anyone, regardless of age, gender or reading preferences. Although they are classed as both fantasy and children's literature, these books can be enjoyed by everyone, not just for its fantastical elements and the broad good vs. evil conflict, but for their gentle humour, loveable characters and vindication of humanity over, not just fantasy-evil, but the more base qualities of greed, ignorance, spite and pride. At their core, the books are a coming-of-age story for our protagonist Taran, as he journeys from boy to man in troubled times, acquiring wisdom, humility, kindness and responsibility as he goes. The best part is that this process is gradual, but not stagnant. In each book, Taran has grown, and yet there's always more to learn on the path to becoming a man. Read More

Taran Wanderer: Thought-provoking, timeless

Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

In many ways, this fourth book in Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain is the odd one out. It is the only story that does not pit our characters against the forces of supernatural evil (well, except in one small instance). It is the only installment in which Princess Elionwy is completely absent. It is the only story that has no clear destination in its quest narrative. Even the title is a little different, lacking the usual "The" before the noun.

Rather than pitting the forces of good against evil, Taran Wanderer is about the journey of self-discovery, making it a much steadier-paced, introspective book. Although some readers may feel that it's less exciting than the preceding books, discerning children will find many hidden rewards here. The core of this series has always b... Read More

The High King: A perfect five stars

The High King by Lloyd Alexander

The High King is the fifth and last book in the truly wonderful Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, preceded by The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, and Taran Wanderer, all of which are necessary reading if you want to fully understand and enjoy this last installment. The High King, however, has the added distinction of being the winner of the Newbery award, as well as being a good deal thicker than the previous books.

Throughout the last four books the allied forces of Prydain under the leadership of Prince Gwydion and the enchanter Dallben have waged war against the evil Death-Lord Arawn, whilst the Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran has grown fr... Read More

The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain: Essential companion

The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

After the five-part Chronicles of Prydain came to a close, fans of the series requested more stories from Lloyd Alexander, and he obliged with this anthology. There are eight short stories in all, set in Alexander's Welsh-inspired land of Prydain in the time before our favourite Assistant Pig-Keeper was born, and each one includes familiar characters or legendary circumstances from the original books. In particular, many of the tales pit the forces of light and life against the main antagonist of the saga: Arawn, the dark Lord of Death.

The first and last stories, "The Foundling" and "The Truthful Harp," deal with the backgrounds of two major characters in the original books: Dallben and Fflewddur Fflam respectively. Dallben is the foundling of the title, who is discovered as an infant by t... Read More

The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian: “We’ll never know”

The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian by Lloyd Alexander

Despite its mouthful of a title, this children's novel has everything that you would expect from a Lloyd Alexander story: a likable protagonist, a colorful supporting cast, plenty of twists and turns, and a profound morality at work that is so expertly melded into the storyline that many won't even realized they've been reading about it.

Set in what feels like sixteenth-century Italy (though Alexander is never specific on the time or location) young Sebastian is a fiddler for the Baron Purn-Hessel, up until the time a badly-timed discord on his fiddle coincides with the gluttonous Treasurer bending over. Thinking his pants have been torn, and then believing that Sebastian deliberately made the noise to embarrass him, the Treasurer demands his immediate dismissal — which is how Sebastian finds himself wandering the countryside with his fiddle and little ... Read More

The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man: A short sweet fairytale from a master storyteller

The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man by Lloyd Alexander

No one does it better than Lloyd Alexander. One of his early children’s chapter books, The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man contains all of his trademark wit, wisdom and warmth, as well as a valuable lesson and plenty of delightful characters.

After giving his cat the gift of speech, the magician Stephanus is now harangued by requests to turn him into a man. Lionel is desperately curious about the world of mankind, despite his master’s low opinion of the folk who live in the nearby town of Brightford -- according to him he once built a bridge for the whole townsfolk to share, only for the Mayor to seize control of it and place a toll over it. Stephanus left in disgust after that, and hasn’t returned since.

But Lionel won’t be deterred, and Stephanus grudgingly grants him his wish. Soon enough a tawny-haired, green-eyed you... Read More

The Wizard in the Tree: Not up to usual quality

The Wizard in the Tree by Lloyd Alexander

All the wizards have long since departed this land for Vale Innis — but one has been left behind. When Mallory's favorite oak tree is felled, she finds a surprising discovery inside: an old wizard named Arbican who's desperate to follow his fellow wizards across the sea. The orphaned Mallory has grown up with stories of magic and enchantment, and couldn't be more delighted with the discovery — especially if there's a chance that she can go with him. Mallory does not have the most wonderful life as scullery maid to the nasty Mrs Parsel, but Arbican has bigger problems: his magical powers have been severely depleted, and if he does not reach Vale Innis soon, he faces imminent death.

It sounds like another wonderful Lloyd Alexander story, but sadly The Wizard in the Tree falls short on several levels. It is a very slim novel, and so does... Read More

The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen: If I ever have kids…

The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander

If I ever have kids, I'm going to make sure that their bookshelves are stocked full of Lloyd Alexander's books. Most famous for his award-winning The Prydain Chronicles, Alexander has carved out a little niche for himself in children's literature by taking his often-used (but never stale) technique of adapting a particular culture's mythology and shaping it to include his own brand of wisdom, poignancy and humour. For The Prydain Chronicles Alexander borrowed heavily from Welsh mythology as found in the The Mabinogian, whereas The Iron Ring focused on India's The Ramayana and The Arkadians was based on Grecian legend. For The Remark... Read More

The Arkadians: Not as brilliant as his other books

The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander follows his usual technique of incorporating various myths from around the world into his own original story (as he’s already done with The Chronicles of Prydain, The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, and The Iron Ring) but this time it’s with a clever twist. Instead of taking aspects of myths to work into his own story, here Alexander traces several Greek myths back to their source, outlining the roots of these stories and exploring how they may have been changed over time into the myths as we know them today. For example, we meet a character in the course of the book who provides the inspiration for The Odyssey — a sailor who helps a group of warriors fetch a runaway youth and maiden from a fortified city by constructing a wooden as... Read More

The Iron Ring: Morals, magic, and mythology

The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander

The trademark feature of Lloyd Alexander's storytelling is to choose a cultural background and weave his own story into the already existing mythology; his most famous example of this is of course The Chronicles of Prydain, in which his own story and characters were melded with the myths and legends of Wales (as found in The Mabinogian). The Iron Ring gets a similar treatment, as worked into the story are elements of The Mahabharata and The Ramayana, India's great national epics.

Tamar is the young king of a small kingdom who is doing a rather successful job at ruling under the guidance of his loyal wise-man Rajaswami and military leader Darshan until one day he foolishly plays and loses a game of chance to the mysterious king Jaya.... Read More

The Rope Trick: All the ingredients for a quintessential Lloyd Alexander story

The Rope Trick by Lloyd Alexander

During his lifetime, Lloyd Alexander was a prolific children's writer, perhaps best known for the wonderful THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN, which is essential reading for any young fantasy fan. The Rope Trick was one of his last books (only two more followed it) and it contains a lot of what his fans have come to expect: a plucky heroine, a twisty plot, nuggets of wisdom, a range of colourful characters (including an enigmatic wise man who always lingers just out of reach) and the familiar theme of it being the journey, not the destination, which really matters.

After her father's death, copper-haired Lidi is determined to become the greatest stage magician of all time. With her clever hands she can perform all sorts of marvellous tricks that keep her audiences enthralled and her belly full with the money it earns her. But the secret to one illusion continues to elude her: the titular rope tri... Read More

The FIREBIRDS Anthologies: Excellent short fiction for young adults

The FIREBIRDS anthologies edited by Sharyn November

Firebirds is the first of the three FIREBIRD anthologies edited by Sharyn November. Some people don’t like short stories, especially in anthologies where you are reading several different authors. I, however, almost always have a volume of short stories on my bedside table. Even if I manage to get no other reading done during a hectic day, it is a way for me to finish a whole story in 15-20 minutes. In an age where many authors seem incapable of writing anything other than multi-novel epics, it is a treasure to be able to enjoy a whole tale in one sitting.

Many collections of fantasy short stories are a compilation of hit or miss attempts to match a loosely defined theme for the volume. The Firebird Anthologies far exceed the industry standard. They are edited by Shar... Read More

Dream-Of-Jade: The Emperor’s Cat

Dream-Of-Jade: The Emperor's Cat by Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander's love and respect for felines is obvious — one need only look at the number of books he has written about them, such as Time Cat, The Town Cats and Other Tales and The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man. And who could forget the giant cat Llyan from The Chronicles of Prydain?

Dream-of-Jade: the Emperor's Cat continues in the tradition of having a cat protagonist who is clever and cunning, witty and wise, and who uses her considerable intelligence to help out the hapless human-folk around her. Named for her bright green eyes, Dream-of-Jade is an imperial cat that wanders the halls of the Emperor Kwan-Yu's palace. Deciding to make the acquaintance of the exalted Emperor, Jade makes herself comfortable on ... Read More

More fantasy novels by Lloyd Alexander

Westmark — (1981-1984) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Falling in with a roguish doctor, his dwarf attendant and an urchin girl, Theo embarks on an unforgettable adventure in the kingdom of Westmark.

book review Lloyd Alexander Westmark, The Kestrel, The Beggar Queenbook review Lloyd Alexander Westmark, The Kestrel, The Beggar Queenbook review Lloyd Alexander Westmark, The Kestrel, The Beggar Queen

The Vesper Holly Series — (1986-2005) Ages 9-12. Publisher: It’s 1872, and adventurous Vesper Holly and her guardian set out for the tiny country of Illyria, on a quest for its legendary treasure. But once Vesper and Brinnie arrive, they are plunged into a fierce struggle between rebel forces — and someone is out to kill the two of them! If anyone can triumph over those kind of odds, it’s Vesper — one of Lloyd Alexander’s most intrepid (and best-selling) heroines.

Lloyd Alexander Vesper Holly The Illyrian Adventure, The El Dorado Adventure, The Drackenberg AdventureLloyd Alexander Vesper Holly The Illyrian Adventure, The El Dorado Adventure, The Drackenberg AdventureLloyd Alexander Vesper Holly The Illyrian Adventure, The El Dorado Adventure, The Drackenberg AdventureVesper Holly The Jedera Adventure, The Philadelphia Adventure, The Xanadu AdventureVesper Holly The Jedera Adventure, The Philadelphia Adventure, The Xanadu AdventureVesper Holly The Jedera Adventure, The Philadelphia Adventure, The Xanadu Adventure

Stand-alone novels:


fantasy book reviews Lloyd Alexander Time Cat, The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man, The Wizard in the Tree, The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, The Fortune-Tellers, The ArkadiansThe First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha — (1978) Ages 9-12. Publisher: After paying a silver penny to encourage a magician to perform in the town square, a carpenter’s helper is conjured to a strange place where the people call him King of Abadan.

fantasy book reviews Lloyd Alexander Time Cat, The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man, The Wizard in the Tree, The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, The Fortune-Tellers, The ArkadiansThe Fortune-Tellers — (1992) Ages 9-12. Publisher: This original folktale set in Cameroon is full of adventure and sly humor. Lloyd Alexander’s story of a young man visiting — and then becoming — the village fortune-teller is brought to vibrant life with some of Caldecott Medalist Trina Schart Hyman’s most memorable artwork.

fantasy book reviews children Lloyd Alexander The House Gobbaleen, The Iron Ring, The Gawgon and the Boy, The Rope Trick, Fantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy, The Golden Dream of Carlo ChuchioThe House Gobbaleen — (1995) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Poor luckless Tooley longs for some help from the Friendly Folk, so when an odd little man shows up, Tooley is delighted. But Hooks worsens Tooley’s bad luck. It’s up to Tooley’s wise cat to get rid of Hooks- by summoning the dreaded House Gobbaleen!

fantasy book reviews children Lloyd Alexander The House Gobbaleen, The Iron Ring, The Gawgon and the Boy, The Rope Trick, Fantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy, The Golden Dream of Carlo ChuchioThe Gawgon and the Boy — (2001) Ages 9-12. Publisher: After a life-threatening illness keeps him out of school for months, David is given a tutor to help him catch up-his elderly, tough Aunt Annie, who is as frightening to him as a monstrous, snake-haired Gorgon. He even secretly nicknames her “The Gawgon.” But, to David’s surprise, a bright heart lurks inside the old woman. She challenges him more than any schoolteacher ever could, opens all sorts of possibilities in his life, and the two of them-The Gawgon and The Boy-develop a very special friendship. Loosely based upon Lloyd Alexander’s own childhood, this jewel of a novel will be treasured by readers of all ages.

fantasy book reviews children Lloyd Alexander The House Gobbaleen, The Iron Ring, The Gawgon and the Boy, The Rope Trick, Fantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy, The Golden Dream of Carlo ChuchioFantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy — (2005) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A riotousy funny and deeply personal story of wonder, discovery and friendship, full of eccentric characters and fantastical adventures, by one of America’s best-loved authors. When David falls ill his tough old Aunt Annie offers to tutor him, and he soon grows fond of The Gawgon, as he nicknames her because of her resemblance to the terrifyuing Gawgon Medusa of Greek myth. Together they embark on exciting imaginary adventures rescuing King Tut’s treasure, scaling mountains and outwitting master criminals.

fantasy book reviews children Lloyd Alexander The House Gobbaleen, The Iron Ring, The Gawgon and the Boy, The Rope Trick, Fantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy, The Golden Dream of Carlo ChuchioThe Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio — (2007) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A beautiful Kirkassi girl, cold-eyed villains and smiling killers, a bazaar merchant peddling slightly used dreams — could any young adventurer ask for more? Not Carlo Chuchio, who is seeking hidden treasure on the legendary Road of Golden Dreams. With Baksheesh, the world’s worst camel-puller, Carlo leads a caravan through the realm of Keshavar. Robbed of all but his underdrawers, mistaken for a mighty warrior and then for a crown prince, Carlo risks his life for a prize that may not even exist.