BilbetteFrom; ┬áMichelle Nijhuis’s five year old daughter insisted that Bilbo Baggins was a girl. After arguing about it for a while, Michelle decided to read her The Hobbit, switching Bilbo’s gender-pronoun throughout. And it worked brilliantly. Bilbo is a great heroine: “tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender — and neither does anyone else.”


Pat Murphy wrote a novel based on this premise: There and Back Again, which is a retelling of The Hobbit as a science fiction story in which all the characters are female (in contrast to Tolkien, whose world is all but empty of women of any sort). It is, sadly, long out of print, but available used and well worth your attention.

In the meantime, this kind of on-the-fly changes to stories are part of what make reading aloud to your kid so much fun. Poesy often requests (demands) editorial changes to the books I read her, some of which have been surprisingly effective at improving the text.

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**Editors note** The imp in me is thinking they could rename it The Hobbette. The purist in me is screaming!