In January of 2003 my son came home from school upset about something. “Dad, can I see the Lord of the Rings movie?”, he asked. Immediately images of Orcs and cave Trolls came to mind coupled with images and sounds of a 7 year old waking up at 2 in the morning screaming from nightmares. “Maybe when your older buddy”, I replied. Of course my son being the great debater came back with the response” but all the other kids in my class have seen it” whether this was true or not I did not know. But I did know one thing was for sure 7 was just to young, but how oh how could I escape the “all the other kids get to do it” and “your not fair” complaining for months to come. A light bulb appeared above my head.” I tell you what, if you read the book you can watch the movie.” Satisfied with my response I began completing what I was working on thinking to myself well that will take care of him for a while. He won’t finish that book until he is 13 or 14 an appropriate age to see the movie. If I had not turned I would have probably noticed a 7 year old with a face of determination, a 7 year old with a dream, a goal, something to shoot for, I would have seen the face of a child accepting my challenge with full charge. One week later my son came home from school as excited as could be. In his right hand he held one of those book order forms. Ahhh the scholastic book fair, I remember those with fondness. What a special day when the box arrives and the teacher begins handing out the books you had ordered. It is almost like Christmas at school. I still remember the book I ordered in 2nd grade “the celery stalks at midnight” Possibly 80 pages and maybe 1500 words. What a novel! What book would he want I wondered we could pour over it together. What fun! Immediately he opened up his order form “Look Dad, Look” He was pointing at a circled picture of the Lord of the rings box set including the hobbit. In my mind I remembered my deal, not being a rich man and not wanting to throw away 30$ along with possibly a discouraging memory for my son I tried to think of a way out of the deal, with only nano seconds at hand and hoping for the best, I grabbed my checkbook and wrote out the check.
My son 4-6 weeks later depending on shipping and handling came home as though he had won the grand prix. Holding his books proud he displayed them to his excited parents and brothers and sisters. He then ran upstairs to his room to begin reading. Within a couple of days it became apparent that it may be harder then expected. So I decided to do what any good dad would do, I helped him. I bought the platinum DVD with the 3 hours of special features and told him every chapter he finished he could watch a special feature. This fueled him to finish the book in 3months we watched and viewed every special feature put on those discs. The day he finished the book was the same day I had planned a hike with him up Mt. Si. There was a look out halfway up the mountain. The plan was to make it to the look out. He being seven drug me being 30 up to the top of the mountain, far past the look out. Quite a kid. Of course I was in reality hiking a real mountain while more then likely he was hiking Mt. Doom. This was driven home by him calling be Aragon my bearded friend Gandalf and reminded us to call him Frodo. We went home and watched the movie twice. The next day I presented him with a very expensive hard cover version of the book with a letter written on parchment paper and glued to the inside cover. I hope it becomes one of his life’s treasures. Last week he completed the Two towers book, since it is not yet out on DVD I decided to take him to the website and show him some teasers to get him by until August 26th. While at the yahoo movies website I noticed that there was a link for show times and tickets. I clicked on the link and found that the next night would be the last night in our state that the movie would be playing at a theatre in Puyallup. The next day we gathered our snacks and gear and traveled 130 miles. Quite a long trip for a movie but the perfect adventure and reward for him. We watched the Two towers on the last night at the last theatre it was playing at in my state. He has now begun work on Return of the king. The plan now is to buy him a bow and arrow set along with archery lessons when he finishes the book. He has loved every moment of the books and the movies and overall this will stick out in his mind as a very fond memory.
I thought this might be an encouraging fan letter for you to read. I don’t know if he would have been inspired to read the books if it wasn’t for the movies and now that he has read the books and watched the movies, he cant decide which is better. He loves the movies but enjoys the books as much. Thanks to Tolkien, Peter Jackson and the Cast for being a huge part of my child’s early academic and imaginative life. Oh by the way the only two things that scared him immensely were Gollums eyes in the fellowship and the shortcut to mushrooms scene with the black rider hanging over the tree with the hobbits right underneath. 4 months ago we brought home two male kittens. The grey one he named Frodo the White one Gandalf.