This new story caught my eye because of its parallel with the original situation that got THE HOBBIT published in 1937 — all because of a child’s honesty in reviewing the book! Over at The Guardian website their Children’s Book section features all-kid reviews. Rather smart to provide children a proper voice in a marketplace directed at them. Young writer Krazy Kesh turns in a delightful review of THE HOBBIT after experiencing the thrill of the first movie in the “Hobbit” film trilogy [click here to read].
The intrepid reviewer has this to say about Professor Tolkien vs. Peter Jackson:
“The film was action-packed and satisfactory but it could not live up to the brilliance of the book. [Tolkien’s] pen brought to life the nature of the characters, giving each one a mind and attitude in our own brain. Never has a classic ever interested me this much, leaving the usual odd and repetitive topics of orphans or romance or death; and pulling me into a world of pure, dangerous adventure.”
This shining bit of enthusiasm reminds me something I have long held as a side-benefit of the blockbuster success of PJ’s films: if they are delighted by this filmic storytelling, you’ll find it more likely these young minds will be turned on to reading and the expansive world of literature. And that entails a lifetime of enrichment and further education on all fronts.
Krazy Kesh, using a psuedonym as many of us do on the internet, is between 8 and 12 years old (I would guess closer to 12), and describes himself in rather hobbity terms saying:
“I am chubby with wit, tall with humour, broad with intelligence, polished in conduct, patriotic in gaming, high with responsibility.”
His review of Tolkien’s efforts seemed Déjà vu to me. I could have sworn there was a black cat in the matrix walking back and forth.
Back in 1935, the U.K. publishing house of George Allen & Unwin was looking at new children’s book submissions — and had just the right filter to ascertain what was most likely to succeed. Sir Stanley Unwin handed a manuscript of Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT to his son, Rayner Unwin (who was only 10 at the time) and said “Have at it. Tell me what you think,” believing that children were the best barometer of children’s lit. He paid Rayner a shilling for every report he turned in on a potential book.
Rayner eagerly lapped up the story, and returned with a sincere report:
“Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who lived in his Hobbit hole and never went for adventures, at last Gandalf the wizard and his Dwarves persuaded him to go. He had a very exiting (sic) time fighting goblins and wargs. At last they get to the lonely mountain; Smaug, the dragon who guards it is killed and after a terrific battle with the goblins he returned home — rich!
This book, with the help of maps, does not need any illustrations it is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9.”
That was enough endorsement for Sir Stanley. They agreed to publish “The Hobbit” in 1937 and the world has never been the same since. You can read more about the publishing history of Tolkien’s works in a reprinted article that I wrote for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine in November 2012 [available here].
Much too hasty,
Clifford Broadway, longtime contributor and webhost for TheOneRing.net, is co-author of the bestseller “The People’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien” (2003) and co-writer/producer of the award-winning RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2005).
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Cliff Scott Broadway @Quickbeam2000