cover image John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien

Caroline McAlister, illus. by Eliza Wheeler. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62672-092-3

The dragons of imagination are always there, but sometimes it takes time for them to breathe fire—that’s what McAlister (Holy Molé!) suggests in this thoughtful look at the creative development of John Ronald, aka J.R.R. Tolkien. Reflecting Ronald’s lifelong preoccupation with dragons, Wheeler’s (This Is Our Baby, Born Today) illustrations blend hints of the fantastical and the mundane—chimney plumes and steam from a young Ronald’s oatmeal mimic the smoke curling from an imagined dragon’s nostrils. McAlister moves briskly through Ronald’s life, touching on the influences of his faith, military service, and education before he hit upon the invention of a hobbit, one who would lead him all the way to “a dragon named Smaug.” It’s an ideal lead-in to family readings of The Hobbit. Ages 4–8.[em] Author’s agent: Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Mar.) [/em]