Book Review: Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien (Reading with Pearl)

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Roverandom, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002

Although not as widely known as some of other Tolkien’s books (have you heard of The Lord of the Rings?), Roverandom is one of my favourite reads on a sick day. So when Pearl recently had her first cold and wanted lots of cuddles, we snuggled up together and I read this to her.

It’s a fun, fantastical, nonsensical read. After Rover – who is a dog, if you couldn’t guess – reacts poorly to aggravation and unwittingly bites a wizard in the bottom, he is turned into a small toy. He’s bought as a gift for a little boy (a stand-in for Tolkien’s middle son, Michael) and taken to a house by the seaside. Eager to return home and to no longer be a toy, Rover escapes from the boy and swept into adventures that include meeting more wizards, travelling to the moon, and spending time at the mer-king’s palace under the sea. Along the way he meets some other Rovers and his name becomes Roverandom.

The book has some of Tolkien’s classic references to mythology and folktales but is completely separate from his tales of Middle Earth. It started as a bedtime story for his sons and though he seems to have fleshed it out, that’s still where it works best. There are some holes and large sections of Rover’s story that are simply alluded to and then passed right by (maybe bedtime was running long and J.R.R. was feeling tired). It’s not fine literature but it’s fun and magical and appealing to anyone who enjoys fairy tales and dogs.

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