Sunday, August 9, 2009
Girls and Wizards
Lloyd Alexander has written dozens of children's fantasy stories, from the award winning Prydain series to numerous one-offs with strong characters and swift action. The Wizard in the Tree aims at a slightly younger crowd, more solidly elementary school but still with interesting plots and ideas.
Mallory, an orphan who likes fairy tales, finds a wizard in the tree the local squire has cut down. She has to deal with the wizard's often impractical ideas for saving himself while his magic returns, the greedy bullying of her employers, and the evil plans of the squire. She does this while facing the difference between magic stories and human heroics. I like the real violence -- some people do die, and Mallory is horrified, but as a child I always hated stories that pretended the stakes were high but shied away from real consequences. Alexander doesn't hesitate to address real values and issues in his book, and although I've sometimes felt his foot was a bit heavy, I always appreciate the respect he gives the reader, whom he treats as a real and honorable person. I've recommended this to my older boy, who is already an Alexander fan. B+.