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This wonderful children's novel tells the story of eight year old Princess Irene.  Cared for by her nurse Lootie, she lives in a mountain farmhouse while her father rules over the region from a mountain top castle.  The local folk work as miners but are beset by the Goblins who inhabit the underground.  Irene is saved from the Goblins by Curdie, a thirteen year old miner, and she in turn saves him.  The whole thing is told in a pleasant conversational style and is filled with humor, word games, magic, derring-do, and pure wonderment.

George MacDonald, a Congregational minister turned novelist, who seems nearly forgotten now, was one of the seminal figures in the development of Fantasy.  His influence on other Fantasy authors is obvious, he was a childhood favorite of JRR Tolkein, who especially liked this book, and C.S. Lewis named him one of his favorite authors.  His own stories draw on many of the themes and characters of classical European fairy tales.  But where they were often merely horrific and meaningless, MacDonald adds a layer of Christian allegory.  Thus, Irene and Curdie are eventually saved by a thread so slender that you can't even see it, but which leads them back to safety, teaching Curdie that you sometimes have to believe in things that you can't see.

The book would be interesting simply as a touchstone of modern fiction, but it stands up well on its own and will delight adults and children alike.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

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See also:

Children's Books
Book-related and General Links:
    -The George MacDonald Society
    -The Golden Key: The George MacDonald  WWW Page
    -The Enchanted Worlds of George MacDonald
    -George MacDonald: An Overview
    -RWS/Fables/George MacDonald
    -George MacDonald 1824 -- 1905 (Heritage: Portraits of Christian Giants)
    -OBIT: George MacDonald (The Manchester Guardian, Wednesday, September 20, 1905)
    -George MacDonald: The Fantastic Imagination  (Introduction from The Light Princess and other Fairy Tales)
    -ESSAY: The Childlike in George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis (Dr. Don W. King, Department of English, Montreal College)
    -ESSAY: Mark Twain and George MacDonald  The Salty and the Sweet (Kathryn Lindskoog)
    -Introduction to "The Complete Fairy Tales of George MacDonald" (Roger Lancelyn Green)
    -REVIEW: What's Missing: Lacunae in the Life and Letters of George MacDonald (Roderick McGillis)
     -ETEXT: The Princess and the Goblin
     -ETEXT: The Princess and the Curdie
     -ETEXT: Lillith
     -ETEXT RESOURCE: The Original and Complete Works of George MacDonald
     -ETEXT: The Light Princess: A Fairy-Tale Without Fairies  (George MacDonald)
     -ETEXT: THE IMAGINATION:   Its Functions and Its Culture. (George MacDonald, 1867)
     -Scottish Writers  edited by novelist and critic  Andrew Crumey

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