Since there doesn't seem to be another biography of Tolkien for young readers, this pedestrian venture will probably be useful. Collins presents the life in orderly fashion, dwelling at length on the Oxford philologist's childhood (he was orphaned early), then focusing on the writing and publication of his fantasy, almost to the exclusion of his academic career; his groundbreaking work and the high esteem in which it is still held are not even mentioned. Despite a chapter entitled ""A Spark Ignites,"" the fascination for language and mythology that was the source of the beloved stories isn't really conveyed here. There are b&w photos (the man, his homes, his haunts; period shots, including some from WW I), plus a great many truly dreadful drawings that seem to be intended to represent Middle Earth--a few pained-looking hobbits and a plethora of clumsily drawn orcs and goblins. Chronology; glossary; bibliography; index.