So, apparently today is “Hobbit Day,” celebrating the imaginary shared birthdays of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. In honor of this day (ahem), I figured I should get around to writing a review that I meant to write over the summer. I read The Hobbit as read-aloud to my (now) 8 year old son (and then we got bogged down in Lord of the Rings trilogy), and he completely and utterly loved the story. After we ended the book, I found a graphic novel version in our local bookstore, and my son has had it in his room every since (which is why I kept forgetting to write a review of it).
I’m pretty sure there are a couple of graphic interpretations of the classic Tolkien novel but this one by illustrator David Wenzel (and adapted by Charles Dixon and Sean Deming) is pretty well-done and faithful to the original story, while moving it all in a very visual direction. The graphic novel covers the entire story and while it is a bit text-heavy (as if everything Tolkien — see my note above about getting bogged down in Lord of the Rings), this graphic interpretation is a wonderful companion piece to the book. I’m glad we read the book first, but my son made a great transition from the power of the read aloud (his own imagination) to the graphic novel version (someone else’s imagination) and we had some long discussions about the way Wenzel envisioned characters, scenes, etc.
What I like best is that the story has remained with my son over the months because the graphic novel is such an easy interface — he connects back to the story with the illustrations. I don’t think he reads all that much of the text in the graphic novel, but that is one of the powers of the graphics — the illustrations tell the story. And now we wait for the movie to start coming out, and he has repeatedly asked if he is old enough to see it. I think it will be one of those movie adventures that the two of us (we may even allow an older brother to join us) can experience over the next few years as the parts of The Hobbit movie come out.
But for now, Happy Hobbit Day. May you go wandering into adventure every day, and still find your way home.
Peace (in all the earths),
PS — this is a pretty decent celebration post of The Hobbit at Wired Magazine.