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The Golden Key

The Golden Key

3.8 5
by George MacDonald, Michael Zebulon (Read by)

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The adventurous wanderings of a boy and girl to find the keyhole which fits the rainbow's golden key.


The adventurous wanderings of a boy and girl to find the keyhole which fits the rainbow's golden key.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Richly described and illustrated. . . . Sanderson's dramatic black and white scratchboard illustrations bring grace and depth to this old story."

"Sanderson's black-and-white illustrations play on the story's motif of light and darkness as she skillfully depicts the children's journey through fairyland. . . . Beautifully presented."
School Library Journal
Gr 3–7—This classic, enigmatic Victorian fairy tale of two children who find, lose, and then find each other again as they search for "the place from which the shadows fall" is given a new treatment by Sanderson. The artist has divided the work into nine short chapters and illustrated it with more than 45 bold black-and-white scratchboard pictures. Mossy discovers the key he has heard about in his great-aunt's stories and is charged with locating the lock into which it fits; Tangle, a neglected orphan, follows a magical fish to a hidden cottage where a beautiful woman takes her in and lovingly cares for her. Here the two meet and venture on a quest, developing a deep friendship, then losing each other, until, with the help of special beings and magical creatures, they are reunited in a new life. Unlike Maurice Sendak's soft, evocative illustrations in an older edition (Farrar, 1967), Sanderson's is deeply textured and dramatic, enhancing the vivid imagery of the narrative with many full pages and spreads. An afterword by Jane Yolen provides a snapshot of MacDonald's life and explores her experience of the story over time. An illustrator's note describes how Sanderson came to reformat and pictorially interpret the mysterious tale. Young readers may be puzzled by the narrative but will likely enjoy the magic, intriguing characters, and richly detailed illustrations; older readers may recognize religious or metaphorical elements. VERDICT A lovely addition for fairy-tale collections.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Review
Scratchboard illustrations add atmospheric notes to MacDonald’s enigmatic tale of two children who grow old and then young again as they journey through magical lands.The 1867 tale is full of lyrical references to color: the titular key itself, for instance, along with a mystical rainbow shining with “shade after shade beyond the violet; while before the red stood a color more gorgeous and mysterious still,” and hummingbird-feathered fish that swim through the air and are transformed (when eaten, a weirdly macabre touch) to tiny angels that “throw off a continuous shower of sparks of all colors.” Rather than try to capture these, Sanderson chooses to use a medium best suited to conveying the story’s likewise significant themes of light and shadow. But for all the expertly modeled hair, faces, and foliage in her art, the rainbow, when it does appear, looks like a monochromatic sunbeam, and shadows in some scenes are obtrusively heavy. The story's metaphors are murky where the illustrations are not, though, and that, along with the ritualistic tone, will likely leave young readers in the dark. Jane Yolen adds a biographical sketch of the author; her critical reflections on different ways of reading the strange miniodyssey only underscore its obscurity. A Victorian-era artifact, available today in collections of the author’s works and served only partially, at best, by these new illustrations. (Illustrated short story. 9-11, adult)

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Audio Literature
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Meet the Author

George MacDonald was one of the most respected authors of his generation in 19th-century Scotland. He wrote over fifty books in his lifetime, and his work has inspired authors ever since, including J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L’Engle. Many of his books are considered to be classics of children’s literature.
Ruth Sanderson been a professional illustrator since 1975, with over 80 published children’s books. She is a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and teaches classes on writing and illustrating children’s literature at Hollins University’s summer graduate program.
Visit her website at www.ruthsanderson.com.

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The Golden Key 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a really nice little book. The characters are great; even the most ordinary of them is interesting. The imagery is very beautiful, as in many of George MacDonald's books. The ending is a sweet combination of happy and sad, and is sure to make you smile. I really liked this book, and I'm sure you will too.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
A charming little fairy tale! Mossy and Tangle enjoy such an adventurous romp together (and aren't their names the sweetest?). Overall, it is a good bit of Christian fantasy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of George MacDonald's thinly veiled discourses on his Protestant beliefs. I prefer his straight out fairy tales with morals. This would be a great book for a discussion group if the participants are educated and comfortable with the literary style.