I'm in the process of considering a move from Shelfari to Goodreads, and decided to look at some of my book reviews on Shelfari (one of many reasons I'm only *considering* the move, since I would hate to lose all that intel!)
In doing so, though, I realized I had reviewed two of the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander. These are books I often recommend to other readers and other parents of voracious readers, so I thought these might be of help. I only reviewed the first and third in the series, but each book is excellent in its own right. We listened to the five on audio book and really enjoyed them, we can't recommend them enough.
The Book of Three:
The story of the assistant pig-keeper and how he goes off on an adventure and learns much about his land and himself in the process. There's an excellent sidekick-type of character, a girl he meets about 1/3 of the way through. Her voice and quips lend a richness to the story, and much comic relief. My kids (ages 6 & 8) absolutely loved this story, which surprised me. We listened to it on audio, and it was read by a very talented british voice actor, which made it even better. Highly recommend.
The Castle of Lyr:
Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles have been a wonderful source of audio entertainment for my family. We particularly love the audio recordings of these books, as the voice talent is exceptional. Gurgey is our favorite head - a creature of indeterminate origins, Gurgey often speaks of "my poor tender head" and is known for semi-alliterative phrases like "crunchings and munchings" that are very funny.
In this third book of the Prydain series, the princess Alanwe (by the way, only long long after we read this book did I learn that it's spelled Eilonwe - ah, well, this is one of those risks of listening to books rather than reading them in print. And I am one of those lazy people that is not going to go fix it all...) is going to another castle to learn to be a lady. Taryn and Gurgey accompany her, and meet up with the Prince of that castle - a flighty nimwit named Ruun. Before long, there is interest and intrigue when Alanwe goes missing, in the company of the ambitious chief steward, Maag. Taryn and friends join the search, with Taryn agreeing to protect Prince Ruun for the king.
They encounter tangles and mishaps, and everyone's character is tested.
The real value in these books is in the way the characters are each so unique, yet also so distinct. It is pretty easy, even without the benefit of the added dialects and inflections that the voice talent on the audio cds provides, to tell who is talking just by the kinds of things they say. They each have a way of speaking and a way of getting their points across that is hard to miss.
The kids find the different charcter's voices engaging, and the action and battle scenes (very mild battle, adequate action to keep an 8 year old boy entertained) hold their interest throughout the whole book.
I find these stories a little slow moving at times, but the unique characterizations and fun little magical details or lore of the land to be really interesting. Very much worth it, and if you can get it - do the audio book!