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Friday, June 10, 2011

Hobbit to Hobbit

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien
audiobook: 11.1 hours
narrated by Robert Inglis

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!

About The Book

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.

My History With This Book

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.

My Quick Thoughts 

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!

Sheila's Questions For Me

1. What did you think of the narration? (Can you think of another narrator who would have done a good job with this read?)  I'm picky about my narrators but I can say that Robert Inglis did a very good job.  He was able to convey a lot of different characters but he didn't do all sorts of vocal tricks to do it, and that's a good thing.  The only other narrator I can think of off the top of my head who would do a good job with this is George Guidall - he's got an excellent voice and is very talented. If you haven't listened to any books he's narrated, definitely look for one!

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:

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!

The Cartoon

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.


Amanda said...

I've never read anything by Tolkein but Jason really wants me to read this one. It was the first book he ever read to Morrigan, when Morrigan was an infant. He would read a bit of it to him every night as Morrigan was falling asleep. All my boys loved the sound of Jason's voice at night. They refused to go to bed for me but all he had to do was start reading and they would fall instantly asleep. Later my mom heard him read and said he sounded like a Catholic priest reading out scripture - a guess it was a low, droning, melodic sort of voice. Anyway, since it was technically Morrigan's first book, I should probably read it one day. Maybe I'd be more willing to do so in audio?

Amused said...

What a fun way to review this! Can you believe I have not read or seen any of these movies? I need to get on this!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Amanda - Hmm, maybe Jason should take up audiobook narration as a side job! As for you, do try this on audio but get a version with one narrator. I think the full cast version is too hard to follow.

Amused - Never?! Oh the horror! You have to remedy that asap! :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I read this for this forst time in 4th grade and have loved it ever since. I can't tell you how many times I've watched that cartoon!

Kathleen said...

Loved that you ended up reviewing this one together!

Florinda said...

I think I remember the cartoon better than the book (which I didn't read till high school; my son read it in 5th grade with the gifted program, and my stepson read it this year - also 5th grade - because his mom wouldn't let him watch the LotR movies until he did), but I'm looking forward to the upcoming film to refresh my memory! Or perhaps I'll revisit it on audiobook first, thanks to your recommendation.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I like your thoughts on this Heather! I too really enjoyed Gollum! I did not think about that with the elves but you are right.

Thanks for doing this with me - it was fun :)

Beth F said...

I've read The Hobbit a number of times since I first read all the books in elementary school. I have listened to it twice.

I never saw the cartoon and didn't click on the link here (I just don't think I want the cartoon images in my head).

I loved this dual review.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Melissa - You're the first person who has remembered the cartoon - yay!

Kathleen - It was a lot of fun to do it this way.

Florinda - The audiobook is a great way to experience the book, but like I told Amanda, be sure to avoid the full cast version as it is very confusing.

Sheila - I'm so glad this worked out!

Beth - Yeah, if you're already familiar with the story you might want to avoid the cartoon but I grew up with and I just LOVE it. :)

Alyce said...

I remember the cartoon, but it scared the dickens out of me as a kid. I think part of the reason I've avoided the books is because of that cartoon. I thought the more recent movies of Lord of the Rings were fine, but still more dark than I like.

TheBookGirl said...

I read all of these books in middle school and loved them. I think it was my first solo reading experience with a series, and that was part of the attraction I believe.

I seem to remember that the elves were not at all cheery, but like you say, somewhat dark in tone.

Unknown said...

As brilliant as I KNOW Tolkien is, I have never read any of the books (commence throwing of tomatoes). Your reviews - by two of my favorite blogger friends - was terrific. Thank you!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Alyce - I felt that way about The Dark Crystal - did you ever see that one?! It creeped me out for YEARS and I still haven't watched the whole thing.

TheBookGirl - The attraction of a series to a middle grade reader is a great thing! I remember myself at that age always looking for books in a series.

Alison - I'm not surprised - it seem like a lot of people haven't actually read him!

Alyce said...

Heather - That is so funny! For some reason I liked the Dark Crystal. Although I definitely remember a creepy factor it didn't bother like the Hobbit.

Ryan said...

I adore this book, though my favorite memory of it has nothing to do with the pages themselves.

When we traveled with the carnival, two years in row we did the Iowa State Fair. One the fairgrounds was a little park area where a puppet wagon was set up. They did The Hobbit every day, several times a day and I tried to never miss a show. I loved it.

Anonymous said...

Good point re the elves. I have the same serious image of them in my mind too - without any of the playfulness.
The dwarves are more sinister in the book than the films too.

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