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Bilbo Baggins was a polite and respectable hobbit who lived in a neat little hobbit-hole in the Shire and never, ever did anything unexpected.  That is, until the wizard Gandalf the Grey and a company of thirteen dwarves show up on his doorstep and suddenly sweep him off on an adventure.  The dwarves have been wandering for years since their home under the Lonely Mountain was conquered by Smaug the dragon.  Thorin Oakenshield believes the time is right to lead his followers back to the mountain and reclaim his grandfather’s treasure.  For reasons he does not fully explain, Gandalf has chosen Bilbo as the “burglar” who will help the dwarves reclaim their home (although poor Bilbo has never stolen anything in his life).  The quest begins with unfortunate encounters with mountain trolls and goblins, and Bilbo worries that he may not be cut out for adventuring after all.  But when a misadventure in the Misty Mountains leads him to discover a magical ring, Bilbo’s luck turns for the better, and he may become a successful burglar at last. 

Tolkien’s classic precursor to the Lord of the Rings trilogy is truly a children’s book–lighthearted and full of adventure, humor, and magic.  Elementary-age readers who enjoy fantasy such as Harry Potter or the Redwall books will love The Hobbit, although younger or less skilled readers may prefer it as a family read-aloud since it is not an easy text.  It is an engaging book, however, and many reluctant readers find that the story motivates them to read it again and again despite the initial struggle.

If you liked The Hobbit, you may also enjoy The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Odd and the Frost Giants, Charmed Life, The Secret of Platform 13, Magyk, Peter Pan, Peter and the Starcatchers, Gregor the Overlander, and Redwall.

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