Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bedtime Stories: The Hobbit

Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Image via Orange Marmelade

Being sick stinks but when you're eight years old, there are potential perks. Mostly holed up in bed the past two days with a stomach bug, Our Girl did have the benefit of great pampering. Among other indulgences, we have spent much of the weekend reading to her. Yesterday, My Wife read her a major chunk of Anne of Green Gables. Today, I read the last eight chapters of The Hobbit to her, thus completing one of my goals for the blogging year.

This was my second time reading The Hobbit in its entirety. I first picked it up as a child, probably in late elementary school or maybe junior high. I was already a big fantasy fan at that point, having read C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander in addition to playing loads of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, I was already familiar with the story thanks to the 1977 animated film. But reading The Hobbit was a turning point in my personal history with books. For the first time, I saw past the story and appreciated the artful prose. I was drawn irretrievably into Tolkien's amazing world with a single sentence: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

With the Peter Jackson film set to debut next December, I felt the time had come to introduce the story to our daughter. With most films, I have no problem with waiting for the DVD release but I know The Hobbit is one I'll want to see on a big screen, ideally at the Uptown in DC if it's there when we are. Even with the likely PG-13 rating, I'll definitely want Our Girl to come with us.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I was a little worried that she wouldn't like it, that she was too young or that she'd get bored midway through and we'd abandon it forever. As it turned out, I needn't have worried at all. She loved it, even reenacting parts of the story with her LEGO and Playmobil figures. After we finished the book today, I set out a new array of books for her to select our next read aloud. Many were stories I adored as a child: The Book of Three, The Headless Cupid, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc. She didn't even hesitate: The Fellowship of the Ring. Right back to Middle Earth we go!

Our copy of the book is Douglas A. Anderson's annotation. Included are many illustrations - Tolkien's own plus various interpretations from around the world. I think it would have been a fine read-aloud without the pictures but they definitely added to the experience for both of us.

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