I give this five stars under its influence. Only time will tell if it lives up to them, by growing in my mind or drawing me back to re-read.
I have alw...moreI give this five stars under its influence. Only time will tell if it lives up to them, by growing in my mind or drawing me back to re-read.
I have always loved Lloyd Alexander's writing, and this, his last book, seems to stand among his greater works. Golden Dream has the inimitable style, the ragtag companions and the innocent romance that characterize Lloyd Alexander in general, but it also has a thread of deeper meaning and seeking that is characteristic of my favorite Alexander works, the Chronicles of Prydain. Where Prydain is concerned, more or less, with growing up and forming/finding the self, my first impression is that The Golden Dream is about what you want in life and why, what's worth striving for, with a side-current on what art does or attempts.
It's definitely its own book, however. Carlo is not Taran, and his companions will not be familiar to Prydain wanderers. Carlo is his own brand of feckless, self-deprecating dreamer ("I never had much occasion to use my conscience. I never suspected I actually owned one.") and his friends have their own outlooks on the world. Carlo's journey twists and wriggles appealingly, and took one turn at the end I did not predict, but which felt beautiful and right.
If I were asked to think of a negative about it, I'd say that the Arabian-inflected world of Keshavar is spun out of stories and icons and may contain a few stereotypes. However, the book makes a sharp nod of acknowledgment to that with its inclusion of the book of tales, more or less the Arabian Nights, which Carlo is reading at the beginning. Moreover, Lloyd Alexander's books consistently are woven out of dreams and legends of places on our Earth, all over our Earth. He is careful to place these worlds outside our own, and I do not think that a child reading this book would try to match its characters and cultures to the real world. I'm reaching for a negative, and that's the only one I find.
The world of the book is thoroughly imagined, the characters charming, and the story vintage Alexander. It would be marvelous read aloud, but however you read it, mind the cliff-hangers or you'll be up past your bedtime! I'm glad I hoarded this book for a year so I would have it to look forward to. I was not disappointed. It made me smile, it made me think, it made me cry, and it gave me the heart-glow that comes of being told a great story.(less)
I loved Edward Eager books as a child, and they're still fun. Seven Day Magic is charming because it's about the magic of books and a bookish sort of...moreI loved Edward Eager books as a child, and they're still fun. Seven Day Magic is charming because it's about the magic of books and a bookish sort of magic. Eager certainly is, as Bellow said of writers, "a reader moved to emulation," and this one drips with his love of books. It's sweet, good fun.
That said, when I was a child, I was like Fredericka in this book (actually, I suppose I WAS Fredericka, down to long, funny F name and favorite Oz book) and liked "magic adventure[s], with wizards and witches and magic things in it" that are "for certain" magic, "not just a coincidence". Fredericka's wish aside, much of this book is the gentler, less flashy sort of magic - more Magic or Not? than Knight's Castle and Magic by the Lake. I'm well aware (as Eager depicts) that children vary from Susans to Frederickas, so some may relish the incidental and subtle magic more than the perilous adventures. Well worth the trip to the library for any magic-loving child.(less)