One of my favorite authors, Lloyd Alexander, passed away Thursday, May 17th. He was my J.K.Rowling. Alexander's books were my "Harry Potters."
I discovered "The Book of Three" in 1971 when my Dad was taking an adolescent literature class. It is the first book in a 5 part series that follows an interesting assortment of characters in Prydain, a magical place loosely based on Welsh mythology. "The High King" the final book in the series, won the 1969 Newberry Award, a medal presented annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in the United States in the preceding year.
When I first read the series I identified with Taran, the main character, a boy who wants to be great but never seems to be successful, at least in his own eyes. I re-read all five books nearly yearly (always in the fall) from 6th grade until I went to college. As a teacher they were read alouds to my 5th grade classes. When I first saw Alexander's portrait I realized he looked exactly how I had pictured one of his characters, "Flewdder Flam" a bard of the harp.
Rowan and I started reading the series at bedtime this year, and two weeks ago I received the copy of "The High King" I had purchased on EBay. It is a signed copy and now I will treasure it all the more.
There is even a houseblog connection here: As we were finishing the upstairs I often thought of a character from the fourth book, "Taran Wanderer," called "Llonio the Lucky." He was a scavenger who always seemed to find just what he needed when he needed it. As it turns out the "secret" of his luck is that actually he has a sharp mind and is good at modifying found objects to solve problems he faced. We built upstairs without knowing what we'd use for flooring. I went to Mid America salvage and not only found floors, but built-in bookcases to use on either end of the sitting room railing. I needed casing and trim, and a lady shows up with a load of salvaged trim from a school, so it was all larger than the lengths needed so that miters for backband cut be cut again, etc. When asked the secret of our success this past weekend at the house tour, like Llonio I always answered "I trusted to luck, and kept my eyes open."
Farewell Lloyd Alexander