The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio - Lloyd Alexander Like The Iron Ring, which I reviewed here, The Golden Dream is a lucid, well written, sprightly tale about a young man, his true love, a mischievous companion and a wise teacher who take the symbolic journey from childhood to adulthood, from ignorance to wisdom.

In this case, the journey takes place in an alternate Earth that's never fleshed out. Carlo Chuchio, our hero, starts out in Magenta, which may (it's never clear) be a city on the island of Sicily. He is expelled from Magenta by his uncle and travels to Marakand, a fabulous entrepot to the east (Marakand = Samarkand + Marrakesh?). In his possession is a treasure map and in his heart is a desire to follow the Road of the Golden Dream to Cathai. Along the way he meets Shira, a young Kirkassi (Circassian) girl; Baksheesh, a rogue with a golden heart; and Salamon, an old wanderer who wants to visit the seashore.

As with all of Alexander's tales, the morals are fairly straightforward - do good, respect life, don't deny love, etc. Alexander's talent as a writer lay in wrapping those lessons in exciting tales of derring-do.

I enjoyed The Iron Ring more than this book. The Golden Dream comes off as less focused, more carelessly written than The Iron Ring, and it doesn't compare to The Prydain Chronicles, but I'd recommend it to very young adults - 9-12? - and their parents.

It too will go into my nieces' Christmas "care package" this year.