Leaf by Niggle

Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
Length: 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (832 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tolkien's acclaimed modern classic 'fairie' tale, read by Derek Jacobi.

'Leaf by Niggle' recounts the strange adventures of the painter Niggle, who sets out to paint the perfect tree. But he senses that he will be snatched away from his work long before it is finished - if indeed it could ever be finished in this world. For it is in another and brighter place that Niggle finds his tree is finished and learns that it is indeed a real tree, a true part of creation.

Created in the early 1940s, at the same time as The Lord of the Rings was taking shape, 'Leaf by Niggle' is a passionate adult fairy tale about a man who has 'a long journey to make', thought to be an allegory of Tolkien's own life.

©2016 J. R. R. Tolkien (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"As with all good short stories, this one expands in the imagination. Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, indeed." ( The Times)
"Brings a wistful charm to complex issues of truth, beauty, duty and creative aspiration." ( The Herald)
"A haunting and successful demonstration of the qualities of faerie." ( New York Times)

What listeners say about Leaf by Niggle

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My Favourite Tolkien

I have read LOTR almost constantly for the past ten years- it fascinates and inspites me endlessly. But this little flibbet of a jibbet book is the one I would take to the ends of the Earth. It is buoyant and innocent as a nursery room tale, yet profoundly revealing of Tolkien himself in a way LOTR could never be. A treasure that I fear few will recognize...and a lively, characterful reading by Mr. Jacobi.

14 people found this helpful

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Gazing through the Leaves

This is of Tolkien's non-Middle Earth stories, but it is a very memorable tale nonetheless. This is story tells of Niggle, a painter living in a dystopian dictatorship that places little to no value on art. I won't spoil anything, but this really is a wonderful story. Very highly recommended!

6 people found this helpful

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Sublime

"Leaf by Niggle" is one of my favorite of Tolkien's short stories. It is a glimpse at what gives life meaning, the idea of purgatory and the High Places that come afterward. For one to be a well-rounded person, ready for their journey, hard work and the arts must go together. A Leaf by Niggle is quite a thing to see...

4 people found this helpful

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A Thought Provoking Short Story

Would you listen to Leaf by Niggle again? Why?

Yes, I've already listened to this 5 or 6 times. It's a wonderful and encouraging story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Leaf by Niggle?

I found to entire of the story to be memorable and very relatable. But when Niggle is able to grow his tree—the tree he had been trying to paint for years was probably my most favorite moment.

What does Derek Jacobi bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love his delivery it's a very good performance. I would never have been able to read the book the number of times I have now if it wasn't for this audiobook. Being able to listen While I drive is a blessing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I think the phrase that summarizes this the best is a quote from the story: "Things might have been different, but they could not have been better."

Any additional comments?

I really can't recommend this book enough! It's fantastic! If you like Tolkien you'll love this. But if you don't like Tolkien you should still give this a shot. It's not as dense and detailed as The Lord Of The Rings, but its message is so valuable!

3 people found this helpful

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  • k
  • 11-27-16

An unusual Tolkien tale

Read it long ago just because it was Tolkien. Wasn't much interested as a kid, not a hobbit in sight. Reread it occasionally and just now audioed it because it kept crossing my mind and has slowly become one of my favorite short stories. Jacobi is the perfect person to do the reading. Can't say that I love the music used for intro or end but whatever.

2 people found this helpful

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Unfortunate treatment of excellent source material

It would appear the producer (and to a lesser extent, the narrator) had no understanding of the significance or themes of this excellent short story. The beginning and end are scored with a ridiculously cheesy soundtrack which robs the ending of its power.

I would recommend waiting to experience this story until you have time to read it for yourself.

4 people found this helpful

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Short, but Not Shallow

I enjoyed this one so much, I'm going to listen to it again right away.

I was expecting a simple little tale to entertain me for an hour. It turned out to be a truly great story with surprising depth.
I was fully engaged from beginning to end.

The narrator's performance was truly fantastic - like homemade buttercream frosting on this literary Cupcake.

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This is an old favorite.

A quote: "It might have been different, but it could not have been any better."

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Short story by Tolkien. Love it!

This was a great little short story by a master storyteller. I greatly enjoyed it

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An ending we would all envy!

I have long loved this story and this performance did not let me down!

A nice pace and enjoyable tone. I will definitely add this to the entertainment playlist!

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  • Helen SJ
  • 01-09-20

Just lovely.

Perfect introduction to Tolkien for a child. Just enough scariness and lots of wonder. Great bedtime read.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-03-19

Picture a tree

This is one of my favourite short stories. Yes, it is very different from other Tolkein works, but a lovely story nonetheless. I love Derek Jacobi's narration too and often listen before sleeping as it is just the right length.
Niggle has to get ready for a journey, but wants to finish his painting. He gets lots of interruptions along the way from his neighbour and friends who want to visit the country. When he is finally called for his journey, he is ill prepared.
Perhaps this is allegorical for journeys we all must make. I hope there is a little train in the station going to Niggles Parish for me at the end of mine!

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  • Yikes!
  • 01-31-19

Strange and unsatisfying

This is an odd story. Derek Jacobi, of course, performed it very well. However, I would rather watch In The Night Garden, which has better stories and more likeable characters.
I enjoy The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and Smith of Wootton Major, but this peculiar offering, unfortunately, isn't Tolkien's best.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Neil
  • 11-05-18

A flight of fancy

It's Tolkien but not as we know him more of a whimsy than a gripper

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  • Karen
  • 09-20-17

Revommended for all ages.

A lighthearted and enjoyable read that the whole family will enjoy. Excellent performance by Derek Jacobi.

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  • Nancy
  • 02-01-17

Leaf by Niggle

Well I did love it .Actually quite moving and thought provoking.The narrator was excellent and really made the story come alive .Thankyou .