Books That Inspire 2011

Smith of Wootton Major
J.R.R. Tolkien

At a children's party, young Smith eats a piece of cake containing a magic star which enables him to visit the land of Faery as often as he wishes. But after many adventures, including dancing with the Queen, he learns it is time to pass on his gift to another child, and reluctantly but freely does so.

It is tempting to see Tolkien himself in the boy Smith, who discovers he can sing in Elvish on his tenth birthday. Smith's mysterious adventures hint in metaphor at the perils and rewards of the creative process, but their exact meaning always hovers just out of reach.

Janet Brennan Croft
Head of Access Services
University Libraries