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The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): Tolkien, J.R.R. (1937). The Hobbit [E-Reader version, 2001]. Harper Collins E-Books: USA.

Category: Award Winning* & Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Horror

Descriptive Summary: In the land of Middle Earth, a group of unlikely characters comes together in the most unlikely of circumstances, to share in a tale of magical adventure. Gandalf the wizard recruits Bilbo Baggins, a quiet and obscure hobbit, as a burglar to help a group of 13 dispossessed dwarves reclaim Erebor, Lonely Mountain, (the heart of the dwarves ancestral homeland), and a fortune in treasure from a menacing dragon that conquered the dwarves many years ago. Along the way, Bilbo and his companions meet many bizarre creatures, encounter the wondrous, face great dangers, and encounter the deepest and most powerful of magic. Perhaps most surprising of all, is what courage, wit, and strength Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves find in themselves and one another. The Hobbit is a fast and gripping adventure with a surprising ending that does not disappoint.

Book Talking Hooks: The Hobbit has really intense, action-packed scenes spread throughout the book. Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves encounter dangerous trolls (Tolkien, 1937, Ch 2, p. 15/32), only to be then captured by mountain goblins (Ch 4, p. 9/23) and almost eaten by wild wolves (Tolkien, 1937, Ch 6, p 15/37) and they are not even halfway through their adventure! The ending chapters do not disappoint with a very climactic battle scene (Tolkien, 1937, Ch 16).

It is not altogether common in all books, and I think it is a strength of this one that each chapter has an interesting name. Some favorites of mine were titles like, An Unexpected Party, (Ch 1) or Riddles in The Dark, (Ch 5) or The Gathering of The Clouds, and finally The Clouds Burst (Ch 15 & 17) amongst many others. These sorts of introductory names invite the reader on, and I think that is a clever way of maintaining the reader’s interest.

The Hobbit has also recently been released as movie trilogy, to a warm reception, so it is a very popular entertainment in cinematic culture at this time, making the book very relevant to a young crowd that might like to know what the book is like!

Evaluative Comments: 5/5. The Hobbit has it all. The story is timeless in its appeal to young adults and adults alike, and although the book was published in 1937, it remains popular today. The Hobbit is a recommendation for any young reader that wants to build the confidence to move on to larger and more complex adult novels. It is a good mix of calmer and reflective moments and faster, and exciting action. This creates a nice balance and range of speeds.

Readers’ Advisory Notes: The Hobbit is a truly great example of an action-packed, world-building story that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and fantasy. It is suspenseful, and very compelling! Eragon by Christopher Paolini, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and Sabriel by Nix Garth are all similar stories in terms of looking for something lost and finding other things along the way that the characters did not even know they were looking for. They are well written stories with a pleasant blend of character development and a mysterious plot that holds the reader’s interest.

Reason for Inclusion: The Hobbit was nominated for the Carnegie Medal Award, the foremost British literary award for children and young adult’s literature, in 1937. In April 1938, The Hobbit also won a prize, awarded by the New York Herald Tribune, as the best juvenile story of the season. The Hobbit was also awarded the Keith Barker Millennium Book Award Winner presented in 2000 by the Youth Libraries Group, as well being named “Most Important 20th-Century Novel (for Older Readers)” in the Children’s Books of the Century poll conducted by the US publication Books for Keeps.

Suggested Audience: The Hobbit is a good recommendation for a young adult reader between the ages of 12 to 18, because the rhetoric style and the vocabulary are one step up from younger children’s books, but not a great leap up into a heavier adult book. The tone is light, but there is steel and grit in the storyline that would entice readers looking for a plot with more substance. The Hobbit is a good in-between story for a maturing audience coming to grips with the idea that life’s choices have consequences and they are not always good.

References

ImdB. (2012). “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/

Rotten Tomatoes (2012). “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Retrieved from

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_hobbit_an_unexpected_journey/

The Tolkien Society (2012). “Did J.R.R Tolkien Win Any Awards for His Books?” Retrieved from

http://www.tolkiensociety.org/faq01.html#awards

The Tolkien Society (2012). “Tolkien as a Writer for Young Adults.” Retrieved from

http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/jessica_jrrt.html

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