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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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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.

5 of 5 people found this review 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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Becke
  • GILBERT, AZ, United States
  • 02-17-17

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...

2 of 2 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nice story.

Nice story. Liked the narrorator a lot. Surprising little find by JRR Tolkien. Glad I came across it & gave it the time.

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A Haunting and Encouraging Story

I have now listened to this deceptively simple little book several times. It seems like a straightforward tale of a man with a project that is at odds with his purpose. But the more you listen, the more you realize that there is a lot more going on than just a simple story. It haunts you. And if you have any religious beliefs at all, it leaves you yearning for heaven while giving you a better grasp of your own life's purpose and a desire to see it come to fruition. To use one of CS Lewis's words, it gives you a glimpse of the numinous and shows you how and where it touches daily life.

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  • Shawn
  • Austin, Texas
  • 07-06-17

A Good, Yet Short Read

Would you consider the audio edition of Leaf by Niggle to be better than the print version?

This is a short book, so I would have to say the audio edition is the better option.

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

Tolkien, doesn't like procrastination it seems. Many of his characters are unwillingly 'whisked' into their adventures and Niggle isn't any different. This became obvious when he is taken, unwillingly, to his adventure.

What about Derek Jacobi’s performance did you like?

It's good for the time it was recorded and I feel the reader was good at portraying the characters.

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

"Yes, I made this tiny book into a trilogy too" - Peter Jackson

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What a different, but fun Tolkien story!

I have been a Tolkien fan since my 8th grade English teacher introduced me to the Hobbit too many years ago to count. And I have now read, listened to (and even watched) the Hobbit and all three parts of The Lord of the Rings numerous times. But I have been slow to get to Tolkien's other writings.
A friend introduced me to this book earlier this week and I was excited to find it on Audible for such a great price. The narrator is great, the story is short but well done. It should be "required" reading or listening for all Tolkien fans.

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What are you focused on?

If you could sum up Leaf by Niggle in three words, what would they be?

Love thy Neighbor.

What did you like best about this story?

It is great short story on the effects our choices make.

Which character – as performed by Derek Jacobi – was your favorite?

Niggle. All other characters were really to short lived to become attached to them.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Niggle starts to see the value of life.

Any additional comments?

Another great story for children. Good way to get them to ask questions on life. Also good for adults, but i feel like it is read more for children.

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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 .