Tuesday, January 24, 2006

[random] Pierced with enchantment

So, once we finished reading the full Chronicles of Narnia with The Boy, we knew it was really only a matter of time before we tried The Hobbit. We weren't too sure about the language - my impression is that Tolkien's work is somewhat more sophisticated than Lewis', and that's saying a lot - but a couple of weeks ago something made it obvious that now was as good a time as any. It's been a blast... I went and picked up the hardcover edition with illustrations by Alan Lee. After flipping through all the illustrated editions at the UW bookstore, this one was the right balance of images to text: there's a minimum of one full-page color plate and one smaller black & white illustration per chapter, which is seems to be a pretty optimal mix for holding The Boy's attention when the words get too dense (not that he's been afraid to ask what words or phrases mean). We needn't have worried - he's enthralled. I suspect that the illustrations are really just gravy; he's been a rapt listener, even through the archaic phrasing and tongue-twisters such as "Balin bade Bilbo" (you say that aloud after a glass of Jo'burg Riesling, I dare you). There was even one night this week when he was ignoring us during his bed-time routines - the consequence that he incurred was that there would be no Hobbit that evening. He was heartbroken, sobbing, even though he probably wound up with a story that took as long to read as our bite-sized morsels of Middle Earth. So... what next? We suspect that Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books are till too scary, so we'll probably move on to the first Harry Potter book. (The title comes from the description of Bilbo's reaction to seeing the scope of Smaug's horde for the first time - and it does yeoman's work describing The Boy's reaction to the book pretty well, I think...)

5 Comments:

Anonymous spyderkl said...

Out of curiosity, how old is The Boy? We've tried reading Alice in Wonderland with Big Girl (she'll be 4 next month) and it's tough for her to stay focused until the end of a chapter - or even a section some evenings.

1/26/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

I wouldn't use him as a benchmark - he ain't right. ;-)

He's 5 1/2, but he's always had a great attention span (and a freakishly large vocabulary). We read Alice about a year ago - a lot of the wordplay went over his head, but he loved the absurdity of it. Of course, he also loves Captain Underpants, so take that as you will.

1/26/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Mez said...

The Hobbit (as opposed to The Lord of the Rings) is very well designed as a read-aloud book. Remember John Ronald was probably trying it out on his brood.

[digression] I really love the idea that his oldest surviving son, living in the south of France(?), keeps boars instead of dogs as guard animals on his grounds. After the films, I suppose they're well-fed boars now. [/digression]

1/27/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Mez said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/27/2006 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

Yeah, you can really tell that The Hobbit was written with a younger audience in mind - and that LotR was written for an older audience (iirc, a lot of LotR was written for Christopher while he was serving in the South African RAF...) and that it was written during dark times for the British Empire. I don't think Tolkien was consciously writing an allegory of WW2 - but I can't see how current events couldn't have influenced him, his protestations to the contrary.

And yes... those are probably very well-fed boars.

1/27/2006 07:48:00 AM  

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