By J.R.R. Tolkien
First published in 1937, J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit has been delighting young and old readers alike for a long time. I am not drawn to fantasy or magical realism, but I met a terrific seamstress who adores good writing and had a yarn or two of her own to spin. When she told me The Hobbit was a must-read, I took her advice, and I am not disappointed. Our Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, led a life of charm and utter contentment until Gandalf the Wizard showed up with his thirteen dwarves. With the fury of a homewrecker, the wizard and the dwarves lay siege to everything in the Hobbit’s cupboard. Leaving his well-stocked pantry bare is something the Hobbit could easily replenish. But what upsets the Hobbit most is that he must leave his life of comfort and certainty to go on a perilous adventure. The dwarves and the wizard are convinced that the Hobbit has the requisite skills to help reclaim the dwarves' ancestral home and treasure by unseating the terrible fire-breathing dragon Smaug. Soon they are battling wicked trolls, wild wargs, (evil wolves over the Edge of the Wild), fat-bodied spiders, and many more deliciously wicked creatures. Wending through the darkest of forests full of gigantic trees and sloshing through magical creeks, rivers and streams, getting close to the dragon seems to be an impossible feat. Just when all seems lost, the Hobbit’s magical ring makes him invisible to friend and foe, allowing him to slip through into the heart of the treasure-filled mountain. A Great War of the Five Armies is fought for everyone in this magical land to seize treasure from the Dragon. In the end, The Hobbit is more than a great story about good triumphing over evil. Although the Hobbit returns to his comfy hobbit hole with plenty of tales to tell, his friends and family do not approve of his adventure. The Hobbit has grown in stature and experience, but they have not. The Hobbit’s community is a tad envious of his courage and grit. Tolkien’s masterpiece might be fantasy, but it is a deft tale about what happens when a hobbit, or a human for that matter, is courageous enough to take the necessary, often painful, risks to achieve self-growth. Hobbit or human, the brave are often shunned and resented by those who are unable to take the leap toward their own self-transformation.