Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ninth Day of Christmas and Tolkien's Birthday

If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.
-J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien [source]

Reading my Fifth Day of Christmas post (20 Go-Old Rings!), maybe you guessed that I recently saw the excellent film, The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. Upon returning home, I immediately took my tattered old copy of The Hobbit off our shelf and have been enjoying re-reading it.

Why (and how) am I going to tie J.R.R. Tolkien in with the 9th Day of Christmas? It's not that I have Tolkien-on-the-brain:  this Ninth Day of Christmas, January 3, 2013, does happen to coincide with what would have been his 121st birthday. 

The 10th Day would have been easy: "Ten LORDS a Leaping", for the author of LORD OF THE RINGS.  Thankfully, my daughter reminded me, "Mom, there were nine Members of the Fellowship."  Well, I think that trumps "Nine Ladies Dancing", so here you have it...

Four (4) hobbits: Frodo, Samwise, Meriadoc (Merry), and Peregrin (Pippin)
+ Two (2) humans: Aragorn and Boromir
+ One (1) elf: Legolas
+ One (1) dwarf: Gimli
+ One (1) wizard: Gandalf
= Nine (9) Members of the Fellowship of the Ring

J. R. R. Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State in South Africa to English parents. When he was three years old he, his mother, and brother returned to England for a family visit. His father, who was to join them later, died before he could arrive, leaving them without an income.

At age 12, Tolkien lost his mother and was made the ward of his Catholic priest. Tolkien attended King Edward’s School from 1910 to 1911 and did well in classical and modern languages.

In 1911 Tolkien began school at Exeter College, Oxford and studied Classics, Old English, Germanic languages, Welsh, and Finnish. He published his first poem in 1913 in the Stapeldon Magazine of Exeter College.

After graduating in 1915, Tolkien enlisted in the Army to fight in World War I. After only four months on the battlefield Tolkien became ill and was sent back home.

After he was discharged, Tolkien worked as a lexicographer for the New English Dictionary and began to work on his epic The Silmarillion, upon which all his mythologies are based. He published A Middle English Vocabulary in 1922 and began work on creating elfish languages.

In 1920 Tolkien began teaching at the University of Leeds as an English professor, where he worked until 1925. He next took up a post at Cambridge which he retained until retirement.

Sometime during the 1930s Tolkien started writing The Hobbit. The book was so successful that his publisher asked him to write a sequel. Instead, Tolkien wrote what is now the Lord of the Rings series. [bio source here]

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to my reading!

...What is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). 
-From Chapter 1: "An Unexpected Party"

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