A few weeks ago Sheila @ Book Journey mentioned that she was starting the audio of JRR Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit. As luck would have it I had just checked out that same audiobook from my library so I suggested that we review it together. And thanks to Sheila we even have a cool header with our pictures in it for this review!
I assume that just about everyone has at least HEARD of this book before but here's a quick description anyway: Bilbo Baggins is a slightly adventurous hobbit living a quiet life when Gandalf the wizard arrives on his doorstep and convinces him to help a group of dwarfs steal their treasure back from a dragon.
When I was in the first grade I saw my dad with this book and asked him to read a little of it to me. He didn't think I'd like it but he agreed to read aloud for a while. When he finished I asked him if I could borrow the book and read it myself, and he said yes (I'm pretty sure he didn't think I'd actually read it). I sped through it in a very short time, and then moved on to the rest of the Lord of the Rings books. From there I picked up books by David Eddings, and my addiction to reading and fantasy was born.
I absolutely loved listening to this book. I remembered a lot more of it than I expected to but there were also things I did not remember at all. One thing I found interesting was the way the author spoke directly to the reader throughout the book. I'd forgotten that, but it definitely made the book seem more like the children's story it was written to be. In fact, it reminded me of being told stories as a child.
One thing that was odd to me was the way the elves were portrayed. They came across as extremely light-hearted and almost silly at times. My vision of the elves has, of course, been influenced by the movie productions of the Lord of the Rings books; in the movies the elves are very serious, but I honestly cannot remember how they were portrayed in the actual books. Does their description in The Hobbit match their description in the rest of the series or is it different? It's got me in the mood to listen to the Fellowship of the Ring next just to figure it out!
2. Favorite part to listen to? I always enjoy the parts with Gollum, but to be honest I enjoyed most of the book. I'd be listening and suddenly remember parts from the cartoon movie or from when I read the book as a child, so that made the entire thinng a lot of fun for me. (If you want to listen to Tolkien himself reading the Gollum section you can do that here: http://youtu.be/7VOdv2RE4jg.)
3. I know you listened to this with your son, did he have a favorite part? I originally got this book so that Kiddo could listen to it but then he found the beginning boring so I continued without him. As the story progressed he got into it more. He really liked the parts with Gollum (he remembers Gollum from the movies) and was very excited to get to the parts with Smaug the dragon.
4. Having read the book, what are the benefits to finding a book you once read and enjoyed and listening to it on audio? What different perspectives does this bring to the surface? For me, listening to this book was a trip down memory lane. I LOVED the cartoon as a child (I've included an excerpt below) and as I listened I realized that much of the narration of the cartoon was taken directly from the book. That made me very happy! But more than that, I love to revisit my favorite books on audio. Having read them once, I'm familiar with the story and the characters, so listening to the audio is like visiting an old friend. Many of us enjoyed being read to as children - for me audiobooks give me the chance to experience that joy again. And just like when I was a child and wanted to hear the same stories again and again, I love to listen to my favorite books again and again.
You can check out Sheila's answers to my questions at her blog - hop over there and check it out!
This movie came out in 1977 and I watched it again and again as a child. I still have a copy of it on VHS ... unfortunately I no longer have a VHS player. *sniff* Here's a clip from the beginning of the movie in case you haven't seen it before. The description of Bilbo's house is a direct quote from the beginning of the book. And the song that I always remember starts at the 8:10 mark.
Thank you so much to Sheila for reviewing with me! Please hop on over to her blog to see what she thought of this book.