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The Hobbit – Book Club in the Shire

November 12, 2008

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole,
filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell,
nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it
to sit down on or to eat:
it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole,
painted green,
with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle.
The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel:
a very comfortable tunnel without smoke,
with paneled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted,
provided with polished chairs
The Hobbit

Chers Amis,

Greetings from the Shire of North Georgia! The woods are a blaze, the trees are laden with rosy apples and rich pecans, and pumpkins glow in the mirk. Much to my joy, our November book club selection was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I am rather partial to Elves, hobbits and the like, so I was thrilled to reread it with the kids. (For the record, I did not suggest The Hobbit as one of our books, rather it was Dr. P.) As you can see above, Caddie and Scarlett decided that all Tookish hobbits like themselves (hobbits with an adventurous streak) need a proper Elvish cloak and brooch. We used the relatively simple instructions for this Fellowship Cloak and 3 yards of lightweight fleece for each cloak. If we had used just one color we probably could have used a bit less fabric, but we love the results. It was a very easy project for beginning seamstresses with a little help from Mom. I loved that fleece does not unravel so hemming is not necessary. Also, we cut the semicircle for the cape with the diameter along the selvage to form the front edge so no sewing necessary there either! We used two hooks and eyes as the neck closures and then Scarlett made a sculpey leaf brooch painted a metallic green and Caddie chose to engrave her name on a bejeweled silver sculpey oval in Elvish using this neat Hobbit Rune generator. Haven’t you always wondered how to write your name in two types of runes and Feanorian Letters? Pippin decided to make his own gold ring of power to ‘rule them all.’ As in the LOTR, the ring had a mind of its own, escaped his finger and is lost somewhere – probably in the mini-van under a seat J

School wise, we have been enjoying this series of unit studies based on Tolkien’s works. They are designed for secondary students but are very adaptable. They are not crafty, cutesy projects, but excellent materials from a literary, linguistic and cultural background.  I would encourage you to check them out!  The first three are specifically on the Hobbit:

Unit One: Introducing Tolkien and His Worlds
Content Focus: The Oral Tradition
Thematic Focus: Creating Meaning Through Myth
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Unit Two: Riddles, Runes, and a Ring of Power
Content Focus: The Hobbit, Chapters I–VII
Thematic Focus: The Magic of Language
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Unit Three: There and Back Again
Content Focus: The Hobbit, Chapters VIII–XIX
Thematic Focus: The Quest in Life and Literature
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We have been reading Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo and will start Gilgamesh the Hero this week. We plan to spend some time comparing several quest stories. For book club the two girls decided to write a series of letters (Scarlett) and postcards (Caddie) from Bilbo to various characters. We were inspired by a cute children’s book called Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett. We found a wonderful group of illustrations on-line by David T. Wenzel for The Hobeornbbit that were perfect ‘travel photos’ to accompany their writing.

Dear Lord Elrond of Rivendell

Many thanks for your gracious hospitality. Our company has crossed the Misty Mountains after many bothersome toils and encounters with the goblins. Apparently we are now heading to the house of a savage bearman. I am not all that pleased about this for I am not sure whether or not bears like to eat their dinner guests while they are not looking. How are all of you there at Rivendell? Is the wine still plentiful? I hope all of you are eating many fine meals a day.

Sincerely yours,

Bilbo Baggins

At book club the girls enjoyed a lively discussion and an ample feast fit for any large group of hobbit, dwarves, elves and even wizards. Here are a few selections from the menu for the Long Expected Party:

Beorn’s Cinnamon-Apple Scones with honey butter and raspberry jam

Bombur’s chocoloate chip pumpkin muffins

Hard-boiled dragon eggs – (painted a metallic green)

Gandalf’s gherkins – petite kosher dill pickles

Middle-Earth Punch

Bilbo Baggins’ Never-Get-Enough Second Dinner Meatballs

Pumpkin and sunflower seed cakes

And a selection of cheese, fruit, and nuts

(I know we had several other delectable dishes, but I can’t remember them all!)

I hope that some of these ideas will start you on a Hobbit trail of your own.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kristin permalink
    November 12, 2008 6:07 pm

    This looks like it was so much fun! Madeline was pining about book club today when our copy of Hugo Cabret arrived. She started at 5, took a short dinner break, and is finished at 7. Apparently she loves it. Now I can’t wait to read it!

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