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|John Ronald's dragons : the story of J. R. R. Tolkien|
Author: McAlister, Caroline
A picture book biography of a boy who imagined a world full of dragons and grew up to be beloved author J. R. R. Tolkien.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: .5 Quiz: 189917
Kirkus Reviews (12/01/16)
The Hornbook (00/03/17)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/15/2016 As a child growing up in a small British town, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien loved dragons and language. These were passions that lasted his entire life, and McAlister describes the clandestine library club he formed at school, the secret language he created with his cousin, and his eventual job as a professor at Oxford. Wheeler plays on John Ronald’s dragon fixation in her detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations, which are awash with green, blue, and warm peach tones. A slinking dragon silhouette appears in a window, and curls of smoke issuing from a pipe, the steam rising from a bowl of oatmeal, and later the fire belching from guns on a battlefield all evoke a dragon’s incendiary breath. John Ronald’s fantasy finally takes off in the final pages, where he walks through scenes from The Hobbit until he meets—at long last—a dragon. Detailed back matter offers readers more specific information on the illustrations, Tolkien’s life, and, of course, the dragons he created. An imaginative and informative look at this beloved author. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2017 Gr 1–4—McAlister's picture book introduction to the life of J.R.R. Tolkien (whom she calls John Ronald) is written in simple, descriptive language—a fragment to six short sentences per page or spread. ("John Ronald was a boy who loved horses. And trees. And strange sounding words.") Critical to John Ronald's life were the "stillness, beauty, and peace" of the Catholic Church; his love of English (coming up with new languages and using them to write stories); his lifelong school friends who shared his love of literature; and his dreams of dragons and other fantastical creatures that inhabited the books read to him and his brother by their mother, who died when John Ronald was 12. After marrying, then fighting in the trenches during World War I, Tolkien taught at Oxford University, where he gave lectures, went to meetings, tutored students, and "graded many, many, exams." The world of the Hobbit and his adventures, created for Tolkien's own children, became a book in 1937. Wheeler's pencil-detailed paintings in subdued greens and yellows effectively portray Tolkien's quiet life and his ability to imagine magical creatures and places (Misty Mountains, Mirkwood Forest) in the countryside around his home. The appended illustrator's note points out elements in the pictures not mentioned in the text. An author's note offers more sophisticated facts; a bibliography lists Tolkien biographies for adults. VERDICT This beautifully illustrated introduction to Tolkien's life for younger readers fails to provide sufficient information to satisfy those old enough to appreciate the lengthy, in-depth storytelling style of his novels.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.