The life of J.R.R. Tolkien has always been an inspiration to me. Throughout all of the suffering he endured in life, he kept close to his Catholic faith and wove a majestic tapestry of beauty in his imaginary world of Middle-Earth.
Tolkien’s works are inspiring in numerous ways and provide a truly Catholic view of the world, one that sees the strength in weakness and how God confounds the proud of this world by sending the meek and humble to accomplish His plans.
Recently I have been wanting to introduce my own children into his fantastical realm and have met success with their love of The Hobbit. To further fan that flame of imagination I also recently discovered a wonderful children’s book on the life of J.R.R. Tolkien entitled, John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien.
The book is truly splendid a beautiful work of art! The illustrations bring Tolkien’s childhood to life and provide the reader with a glimpse into his background.
The description gives a good summary of the contents:
John Ronald loved dragons. He liked to imagine dragons when he was alone, and with his friends, and especially when life got hard or sad. After his mother died and he had to live with a cold-hearted aunt, he looked for dragons. He searched for them at his boarding school. And when he fought in a Great War, he felt as if terrible, destructive dragons were everywhere. But he never actually found one, until one day, when he was a grown man but still very much a boy at heart, when he decided to create one of his own. John Ronald’s Dragons, a picture book biography by Caroline McAlister and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, introduces the beloved creator of Middle Earth and author of The Hobbit to a new generation of children who see magic in the world around them.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has children, no matter what age, or to anyone who loves Tolkien and wants an insight into his life. Tolkien is truly one of the greatest author’s of modern times and I firmly believe his works have such great power behind them because of his ardent practice of his Catholic faith.
On a different note, a book recommendation for those looking to delve more deeply into the wisdom of Middle-Earth, I recommend David Rowe’s, The Proverbs of Middle-Earth. It is described as:
In The Proverbs of Middle-earth, David Rowe discovers and investigates the degree to which the ‘soul’ of each of these fictional civilizations can be understood through the lens of their proverbs. What is revealed enriches the reader’s experience of and delight in Middle-earth, as well as illuminating the astounding depth and detail of creativity behind it. Arrows dipped in honey abound!
Peter Kreeft, a well-known Catholic philosopher, had this to say about the book in his foreword:
An Arabic proverb says, “Before you shoot the arrow of truth, dip it in honey.” This book is both a quiver-full of well-pointed arrows, and a large jar of honey. It is a romp, as well as a thorough and deeply penetrating exploration of its subject.
In the end, I thoroughly encourage you to dive deeper into Tolkien’s works and to introduce them to your children. It is something you will not regret.