I hadn't even heard of this charming little book until earlier this year. So if you hadn't heard of it before either, don't fret! It was first published in 1998, though Tolkien had actually hoped to publish it after The Hobbit. But his publishers didn't want more funny and whimsical fantasy stories for kids in general, they wanted more of The Hobbit in particular. So Tolkien shelved Roverandom even though he had revised it repeatedly and made lovely illustrations for it, and wrote The Lord of the Rings instead.
This story began, like The Hobbit, as something Tolkien made up for his children. His second son, Michael, lost a little toy dog that he loved dearly while they were at the beach, and Tolkien made up a whole series of adventures for the dog to help his son process the loss. His sons all enjoyed them so very much, he told them over and over, and expanded on them, and eventually wrote them down.
I learned all of that in the extensive introduction in the hardcover volume I have, as pictured here. The introduction and end notes make up about half of the book, as Roverandom only has 5 chapters. In it, a real dog falls afoul of a wizard, gets turned into a toy dog, is bought for a little boy who then loses him on the beach, is rescued by another enchanter and sent to the moon to have adventures, then has more adventures under the sea before everything winding up very happily.
A lot of this book reminded me of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. That same exuberant make-believe feel about fantastical realms coexisting with our own, you know? But it lacks the melancholy of The Little Prince, which suits me just fine. I like dog books that end happily, and I'm very glad this one did.
|(From my Instagram)|
Particularly Good Bits:
"You never know what will happen next, when once you get mixed up with wizards and their friends" (p. 67).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G. Nothing potentially objectionable here whatsoever.