Roverandom, by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Christina Scull and
Wayne G. Hammond. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. Trade
paperback, $12.00. 0-395-95799-0.
This is the first paperback of a short novel Tolkien wrote for his
children in the mid-1920s. It was first published in hardcover in 1998.
In 1925, Tolkiens son Michael, then nearly five years old, lost
his miniature toy dog on the beach. Tolkien wrote Roverandom to
console his son. It tells the story of a dog named Rover, who annoys a
wizard and is turned into a toy. The toy Rover is then lost on the beach
by a young boy, and later found by a sand-sorcerer, who animates the toy.
Roverandom tells of the random adventures of this toy dog Rover, on
the far side of the Moon and under the sea.
This is a charming story, on the same level of Tolkiens
earlier posthumous childrens book Mr. Bliss. To fans of
The Lord of the Rings it may, however, seem a bit slight, but with
the understanding that it is a story written by Tolkien for his children
it can be enjoyed for being exactly thatand a well-done childrens
tale at that.
There are five illustrations by Tolkien included with the book,
three in color and two in black and white. They are delightful, and they
recall some of Tolkiens illustrations from his Father Christmas
Letters, and from The Hobbit. This edition also includes a scholarly
introduction by the editors, and several pages of notes at the end spelling
out allusions and references in Tolkiens text.