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The hobbit book cover

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien;
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012; $14.99

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, published in 1937, is a timeless tale of adventure worth reading over and over again. If you manage to pull open the green door that guards the cozy home inside, what do you see? Try to take the yellow brass knob placed picturesquely in the center. This door guards an adventurous tale of thirteen dwarfs and a hobbit. The “unexpected party” sets off to reclaim the dwarfs’ treasure from Smaug “the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities”. You creep inside this door and hear faint singing; Tolkien’s poetry and songs fill this story with fun rhymes and longing hopes. Down the hall, in the kitchen, is Bilbo Baggins a clever, courageous and persistent hobbit. Farther inside the well-kept hobbit hole, you see lessons Bilbo learns along his journey. You look out the window, and in the distance you watch fourteen figures on horseback. Will the burglar and the dwarfs reclaim their “long-forgotten gold”?

Whether you’re on your way far over the Misty Mountains cold, chipping glasses and cracking plates, or maybe tra-la-la-lalling in the valley, Tolkien’s dexterous poems and songs are sure to please for ages to come. The poems are either funny, longing or ingenious. They add an extra layer of descriptions that makes one feel as if one is actually in Bilbo’s parlor listening to the dwarfs singing of the Lonely Mountain and the dragon’s great greed that led to the destruction of Dale.

No hobbit is smarter, more stouthearted and steadfast than Bilbo Baggins. Throughout the course of The Hobbit, Bilbo is clever. For example, he rescued the dwarfs when they had been captured by the Wood-Elves in Mirkwood. No one would have come up with the escape plan Bilbo thought of: saving the dwarfs by way of barrel. But that is only one side of the Tookish hobbit. It takes courage to go on an adventure with thirteen strange, uncouth dwarfs. For instance, Bilbo was brave and bright when he bested Gollum in the riddle contest while inside the dark, damp tunnels of the Goblin King. Lastly, Bilbo is persistent. Finding the keyhole when all the other dwarfs had given up shows his sense of perseverance. All in all, Bilbo is valiant, quick-witted and never quits.

The books that have withstood time’s test have lessons to teach. The Hobbit did, and still does, just that. Along his journey, the small hobbit, Bilbo, learns many lessons. Smaug’s greed for gold and jewels lead the scarlet dragon to destruction. This teaches us not to live for ourselves alone. The theme of good verses evil teaches us to fight for what is right. The company’s determination to succeed in their goal is admirable. This inculcates us to never give up. The lessons learned in this valuable book have endured.

As Bilbo said, or more rather, sang, roads do go ever on and on. Sometimes the road is made of difficult terrain, rocky and hard to climb; but sometimes the road is smooth; the sun is shining, and the sky is clear and blue. You stop short as you see your neighbor’s hobbit holes – you’re home! However, you notice something different. It isn’t something you can hold in your hand, but something imprinted in your heart. What you find are clever songs; an endearing character—Bilbo—who teaches you life lessons. You gently close the round door, smiling.

The hobbit Catherine Gruen
Catherine Gruen, 11
Chino Hills, CA