Wednesday, June 16, 2010
By JRR Tolkien
One of the pleasures of having kids is you get to read them bedtime stories, and you get to revisit your own favourites. It's a damned good excuse to let loose your inner child.
We have just finished The Hobbit, and it reminded me how much I loved this book, even more so than the Lord of the Rings. There's just something about Bilbo Baggins, Shire homebody turned adventurer (when his Took side kicks in). The boys loved this one and were begging for extra chapters each night - a sure sign of a great book.
One of the things I loved about this book, as the person on the business end is how lyrical it is and what a pleasure it is to read aloud. I think Tolkein must have read it out as he was writing, because the language flows and rolls around in your mouth in delicious ways. Even the songs are fun to tackle.
It was a stark contrast to another recent bedtime story book, a Famous Five title, by Enid Blyton. I found this cumbersome and clumsy to read and frequently stumbled over words. In fact, after reading one aloud I refuse to read any more. So the boys have polished the series off on their own. I don't think dear Enid tried the read aloud test.
Which brings me to my point - I do get to the point eventually, well, sometimes. It pays to read your work out loud, because if your tongue trips over the words, then the reader is going to find it clunky as well. It also helps you to pick up when you've been repetitive.
Of course reading The Hobbit has got the boys all interested in The Lord of The Rings - which I'm not going to read to them - it would take all year! They've also got all interested in elves, dwarfs and dragons. I took great delight in showing them some artists impressions of Smaug. Check out this one by Dunedin goldsmith and fellow fencing buddy Tony Williams.
Next we move away from hobbits and wizards and move onto volcanoes and strange slug like creatures in Maurice Gee's Under the Mountain...