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Lloyd Alexender was born in a suburb of Philadelphia in 1924. As early as he could remember he wanted to be a writer which according to him, “horrified his parents.” After graduating high-school and saving some money he began to attend college. Feeling unsatisfied with his coursework and due to the fact that the United States had entered into World War II, he decided to enlist in the army.
After he was discharged from the army he attended the University of Paris, met the girl whom he would eventually marry and then returned to the United States. He felt that living abroad was fascinating but that to write anything worthwhile he would need to return to his roots. His life overseas would one day play a large part in his future writing endeavors.
Working a set of jobs in order to support his family his longtime wish finally came true and Alexander became a published author in 1955. For 7 years prior to that he wrote primarily for adults but it wasn’t until he started writing for children that he began to have commercial success.
His most famous series were the Chronicles of Prydain series. Several awards followed the writing of these five books which culminated in a Newberry Medal for the 5th book in the series The High King. During his lifetime he received 3 different lifetime achievement awards. His final book, The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, was published after he passed away in 2007.
Upon receiving his Newberry Medal in 1969 he stated, “In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar….. and an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.”
Books of InterestEdit
The Book of Three
Taran is a lowly assistant pig keeper. Losing his pig Hen Wen who happens to be an oracle sends Taran on an adventure greater than he ever expected. Joined in his journey by an Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, a untruthful bard; the ever-loyal Gurgi; and the grumpy Doli, Taran and his companions become involved in an adventure that will shape the fate of Prydain. The Book of Three has been enchanting students and adults for decades now. Whether it be cheering for an assistant pig keeper, discovering the unexpected within the book , or feats of sacrifice The Book of Three certainly sets the tone for the other 4 books in the series.
The Black Cauldron
The story continues when Taran and his companions try to prevent an army of the undead from rising. This book later became Disney's 25th animated feature and something of a cult classic for many of those who remember seeing it as a child. Lessons abound in this story from unexpected heroism, difficult decisions, and sacrifices for the good of the many.
The Castle of Llyr
Elionwy who was found by Taran in The Book of Three is a princess of the house of Llyr (who no longer reign). Dallben the enchanter who has watched over Taran since his infancy has decided that Eilonwy, as a princess, needs direction that he alone cannot provide for her. It is decided that Eilonwy will reside at a royal court on the Isle of Mona, west of Prydain. With Gurgi, Taran escorts her to Mona on a ship captained by Prince Rhun, a cheerful but empty headed young man. Upon discovering his own feelings for Eilonway Taran finds himself jealous of Rhun's noble birth but Rhun's parents charge him with their sons protection further complicating things. This is a great story about being content with who you are in life and that maybe the grass is not always greener on the side.
This book is a departure from the rest of the books in the series. In this fourth installment Taran knows that he wishes to marry Elionwy but she being of nobility and he being an orphan places him at a disadvantage. Taran decides to go on a quest in search of his parentage hoping to find out that he is of noble birth. This book is about uncovering hidden talents, finding our limitations and helping those who come into our lives. It may be easy for many to identify with Taran's quest to find out who he is as it is a journey that all of us have to go through at some point in our lives.
The High King
In the final book of the series the forces of good unite against Arwen their common foe. Much like many literary classics the High King has something for everyone. Sacrifice is also a central theme in High King and many of the sacrifices that key characters make are touching and surprising. People who have read the first four stories will want to find out how the story ends, and the High King could easily spawn conversations about choices, what courage truly is, and how to treat others.
Time Cat was Lloyd Alexander's first real success. In this story the protagonist Jason learns that his cat can travel to 9 different points in history (one for each of his 9 lives). This book could easily be used to teach about different era's of history that Jason and his cat visit. It would be interesting to see how excerpts from the book parallel what those particular times in history were really like.
- Alexander, L. (1964). The Book of Three, New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Alexander, L. (1965). The Black Cauldron, New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Alexander, L. (1966). The Castle of Llyr, New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Alexander, L. (1967). Taran Wanderer, New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Alexander, L. (1968). The High King, New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/lloyd-alexander-interview-transcript- Retrieved on April 13, 2012
- http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/19/arts/19alexander.html?_r=1 – Retrieved on April 14, 2012