“Let him alone,” said The Gawgon. “Poets don’t like to be questioned, especially when they don’t know the answers.”
Having previously turned to various mythologies, pulp fiction novels, and fairy tales for inspiration, in 2001 author Lloyd Alexander found himself inspired by something different: his own childhood in Philadelphia, just before and at the very beginning of the Great Depression. The result, The Gawgon and The Boy, is something very different for Alexander’s novels for children: a bittersweet story of family, disappointment, lies, and storytelling, nostalgic and sharply realistic all at once.
As such, the book might come as quite a surprise—it took me a moment to adjust when I encountered it during this reread. And yet, despite the major differences between this book and every other Lloyd Alexander book, fans will notice several similarities: the gentle humor, the obsession with adventure and mythology, and the constant examination of the need for stories, for poetry, for art.
Though I do have to warn you: to quote another book I read as a kid: there’s death coming, and some of the wrong people die.
[I warn, because no one warned ME, although sure, you can see the death coming. Still. Gulp.]