Monday, March 27, 2017

MMGM: The Hobbit

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

The Hobbit, Cover art by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Hobbit,
Or There and Back Again
Written by J. R. R. Tolkien

Allen & Unwin, 1937
Ages 12+, 1000L
300 pages, 95000 words


       In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole, with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
       It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened onto a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable hole without smoke, with paneled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill —The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on the other. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

I first heard this portion of The Hobbit in second grade. I remember the experience well, and the drawing I did afterward, of a neat and tidy hobbit hole. My next encounter with Tolkien was The Lord of the Rings film released when I was in elementary school. I immediately undertook the reading of the trilogy, though it was more than a year before I finished it.  While my classmates were lip-synching a production of Grease, I was sitting in a corner of the playground pouring over my book. My obsession with all things Tolkien earned me a hobbitish nickname and spurred many class projects.

Hobbit Interior by Vangelo-18 via Deviant Art

At a recent school book fair, I was appalled at the varying advice of fellow parents and teachers' aids. Several children were scolded for reading books either above or below their grade level. Time and again, classes were admonished to only check out books in a certain section of shelves. This was a book fair, not a class assignment! Where would I be if I hadn't heard Tolkien's words six years before anyone would have expected me to read them? Or later, when my brilliant teacher encouraged me to persevere in a book two grades or more above my reading level?

 1. If you haven't read the Hobbit, I can't think of a better time. Nothing, in my opinion, can beat The Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Don't be afraid to try Tolkien's other works, his histories, poetry, and even a children's story are available in multiple editions. And please, please, read them to the young people in your life. There's no knowing where they might be swept off to.

My copies of the books carry the Tolkien watercolor illustrations. Simply gorgeous.

2. How often do I recommend the movie version? Not often. But I sometimes forget how, in my childhood, films made me run to the bookshelf to see what really happened or to prolong the experience.
This was the movie that started it all for me.

3. Other MMGM reviewers recommend these fantasy reads:

The Fellowship of the Ring, reviewed by Marsh on A Monster Ate My Book Report
The Dark Is Rising, reviewed by Kim on Dead Houseplants
The Princess and the Goblin, reviewed by Myrna on Night Writer
The Chronicles of Prydain, reviewed by Joanne here on Bookish Ambition

and don't miss the epic fantasy mystery series, Keeper of the Lost Cities, penned by our Marvelous Middle Grade Monday host Shannon Messenger

4. Saturday was Tolkien Reading Day. Check out the details on my weekend post.

Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for March 27, 2017.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?

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