For this January 2022 edition, I chose Lloyd Alexander.
He was an American author (I always thought he was British!) who wrote 40+ books. He’s perhaps best known for his children’s and ya fantasy books.
Why I picked him: The Chronicles of Prydain was the first fantasy series I read. Sure, I’d read individual fantasy books before, but never an entire series until this one. It made a HUGE impression on me. I was in my early teens when I read it, and I can still remember elements of the plot, the characters, and how the story made me feel.
As with any good fantasy, the plot sucked me right in, as did the characters. But the thing that surprised me was that it wasn’t a candy-coated version of a magical world—though the story was fantasy, there was so much about it that was true to real life. There were deep themes, and hard-won life lessons the characters came away with that were haunting in the best of ways. The highest compliment I can give it is that I still think about this series—and regularly recommend it—decades later.
Book I recommend you start with: The first in the Chronicles of Prydain series, which is The Book of Three.
- Alexander co-created Cricket, the children’s literary magazine.
- Two books in The Chronicles of Prydain series won Newbury Awards: The Black Cauldron won the Newbery Honor and The High King won the Newbery Medal.
- Disney made an animated movie based on The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron. Unfortunately, it wasn’t great, but it was notable because it was the first Disney movie to use CGI. According to an article in Variety in 2016, Disney was developing a new Chronicles of Prydain project—fingers crossed it’ll do justice to the books.