“In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar,” he (Lloyd Alexander) said in his Newbery acceptance speech in 1969. “And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.” (From Lloyd Alexander's obituary in the New York Times, May 19th, 2007.)
The Prydain Chronicles are Alexander's most famous books. Based loosely on - or inspired by - The Mabinogion, the huge Welsh mythology, the books follow the fate of an Assistant Pig-Keeper, Taran, as he fights for survival against a growing evil. The final book, The High King, won Alexander his Newbery Award.
My favorite series by Lloyd Alexander was the Vesper Holly series. 17-year-old Vesper leads her guardian on a merry chase through several continents, hunting down the research that Vesper's late father left undone; and barely escaping the clutches of the evil Dr. Helvetious at every turn. Raiders of the Lost Ark was still very popular when the Vesper Holly books were published. Indiana Jones had NOTHING on Vesper Holly.
If you want insight into Lloyd Alexander's boyhood, you might read The Gawgon and the Boy. Alexander claimed that it was not autobiographical. Still, I suspect the Boy shares a lot with the young Alexander.
5 Things I Know About Lloyd Alexander
1. He died a mere two weeks after his wife died.
2. He never saw either of his parents read a book.
3. He went to Haverford but only attended for a term.
4. He claimed that he modeled the character, Fflewdur Fflam, on himself - his appearance and his propensity for breaking things.
5. He died before his final book was published, The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio.
Lloyd Alexander was an American treasure - and a proud Philadelphian, to boot. Huzzah!