Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Hobbit

The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien
For ages 10 and up
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012   ISBN: 978-0547928227

Bilbo Baggins is very happy with his quiet life in his comfortable hobbit hole under the hill. Meals are often, abundant, and predictable, and everything is as it should be. He is therefore very discombobulated when Gandalf the wizard appears on his doorstep one day, and he tries to get rid of the disturbing old man as quickly as possible. He is even more horrified when thirteen dwarves and Gandalf arrive for tea the very next day. It would appear that they want Bilbo to join them on an adventure. The dwarves want to get back the treasure that Smaug the dragon stole from them, and they want to hire Bilbo to help them; he will be their "burglar." Bilbo very much wants to refuse this offer, and yet for some confusing reason this fails to happen. Before he quite knows what is happening, Bilbo is riding on a pony, heading off on an adventure which may very well be his undoing.

As it happens, the dwarves are very lucky that they took Bilbo with them for he saves their lives several times over. Not only is he quick thinking and brave, but he also finds a ring of invisibility, which makes it possible for him to do all kinds of remarkable things.

In the end, quiet little Mr. Baggins does indeed fulfill his role as the expedition's burglar. In the process he becomes very fond of a side of himself that he otherwise would never have discovered; he learns that he is able to out-riddle an evil little cave-dwelling monster; he can fight huge spiders; he figures out how to rescue his friends from captivity; and he even talks to a huge dragon. It would appear that Bilbo is more than just an unassuming little hobbit who likes to have his meals on time. That other side of his character helps him rise to challenges that would fell many, and he thus earns the respect and admiration of elves, dwarves, and men alike.

This is a tale that has truly stood the test of time, and it has delighted readers of all ages since its publication in 1937. Tolkien is without a doubt one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time.