February 07, 1983 12:00 PM

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Before the appearance of Hobbits and a misshapen, moist Gollum slithering in the Middle-earth’s depths, there was Mr. Bliss. Now, after more than 50 years, a book that Tolkien wrote and illustrated for his children when they were small has been published with his drawings reproduced in color. Both story and pictures are very much of their era. Mr. Bliss, who wears an extremely tall green top hat and has a nose like a bird’s beak, lives in a tall house and has a pet that is part giraffe and part rabbit. It’s called a girabbit. Mr. Bliss buys a yellow convertible with red wheels and sets off on a trip to see friends. This is a slight story, the kind that a nice father tells, thinking it up as he tucks his small children into bed. The book is a pretty project with a sweet, old-fashioned air about it. (Houghton Mifflin, $11.95)

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