Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Ryan, P.M.  (2000).  Esperanza Rising.  New York, NY: Scholastic.2002 Pura Belpre Author Award2001 ALA Notable Children’s BookInterest Level: 5-8Reading Level: 6.2Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical FictionSubjects: Mexican Americans, Agricultural laborers, California, Family, Migrants

Ryan, P.M. (2000). Esperanza Rising. New York, NY: Scholastic.
2002 Pura Belpre Author Award
2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 6.2
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Subjects: Mexican Americans, Agricultural laborers, California, Family, Migrants

“Did you know that when you lie down on the land, you can feel it breathe?” – Papa

Thirteen year old Esperanza Ortega leaves her ranch home in Aquascalientes, Mexico and life of luxury after her Papa dies in a fire set by her two uncles so they can have the land and hopefully one will marry Esperanza’s mother. For Esperanza, her mother, and her Abuelita (grandmother) this is not a life any of them desire. Esperanza and her mother are able to escpae as migrants to the United States in the cover of night, but unfortunately must leave Abuelita behind. When they arrive in Arden, Califonria during the great depression of the 1930’s, they make due with residence with Miguel, the son of a previous worker for Esperanza’s Papa. Esperanza thrown from luxury to now a life of poverty and manual labor her adjustments aren’t easy, but she learns to take care of the house chores and the two babies. When Esperanza’s mother falls ill with Central Valley Fever, Esperanza begins working the farms to pay for her mother’s medical bills and saving money to help bring her Abuelita to California. Miguel, a family friend steals Esperanza’s money to go to Mexico and bring Esperanza’s Abuelita to the United States to help lift the spirits of Esperanza’s sick mother. As hope was restored to Esperanza and her mother, Esperanza learns that wealth is not only determined by material goods, but family, friends, health, home, and gratitude.

Esperanza Rising offers historical and cultural events for readers to learn and experience as they follow along with the daily experience of Mexican immigrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley in California with the dreams of a better life than previously in Mexico, and the inequalities of living conditions between Okies (migrant workers from Oklahoma) and the Mexicans were astonishing, such as the Okies having hot water and bathrooms in their housing and a swimming pool in their camp. The discriminations faced by Mexicans are shocking to read as Esperanza first experienced them, such as when Isabel was not awarded the Queen of May because she was not white. In the story the reader learns about the “voluntary” deportation of Mexicans regardless if United States citizens or not during the early 1900’s and Esperanza Rising is a wonderful book to read in conjunction with teaching these historical events.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan has a very beautiful message regarding family values as well as non-family showing empathy for others and can teach the idea of how racial stereotypes can occur in many forms and cause great suffering. Reading personal stories, which may often occur in fiction format, can emotionally affect the reader as Esperanza Rising successfully does by providing the reader with insight to the pains of individuals from diverse cultures. Other similar realistic fiction titles for tween include Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Collins, S.  (2008).  The hunger games.  New York, NY: Scholastic Press.2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book Interest Level: YAThe Hunger Games Trilogy:1 - The Hunger Games2 - Catching Fire3 - Mockingjay

Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: YA
The Hunger Games Trilogy:
1 – The Hunger Games
2 – Catching Fire
3 – Mockingjay

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Suzanne Collins begins The Hunger Games by introducing the reader to Panem, a dystopian society divided into 12 districts in the ruins of what was once North America. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl, will learn that her actions alone can ignite change for a better future. She is from District 12, one of the poorer districts where food is scarce.  We learn that Katniss has had a hard life after her father died when she was 11-years-old in a mining accident and her mother was unable to cope leaving Katniss to fend for the family.  She taught herself to hunt illegally outside of the limits of District 12, how to barter her catch for food and goods with other traders at the Hob, and to inevitably keep her and her sister alive.

Each year, Panem has an event called “The Reaping” in every District. The Reaping is for The Hunger Games. Every district picks two tributes, a boy and a girl by lottery that will literally fight for their lives.  For the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss steps up and volunteers after her sister, Primrose’s name is drawn.  Peeta Mallark is also chosen, the boy that once gave her bread for her family when they were starving. The two tributes of District 12 are sent to the capital of Panem, a plush luxurious place with as much food as one could eat. There they train for the upcoming games in which they learn to hone the skills they were born with.  For Katniss it’s hunting with a crossbow in which her skill and accuracy are unmatched.  For Peeta it’s his strength and ability to camouflage himself.

Katniss’ partnership during the games with fellow tribute Rue reminds Katniss of Primrose and fuels a desire to protect her.  When Rue dies it breaks Katniss heart and Katniss tries her best to honor Rue.  That honoring of District 11’s tribute sparked anger and discontent over the games.  The connection between Katniss and Rue may have helped start the rebellion that begins later in The Hunger Games Trilogy. The star-crossed lover story was cooked up by Haymitch, but to Katniss’ surprise she finds that Peeta’s feelings are true but not mutual. And, at the end of the games, rather than killing one another, Katniss and Peeta choose to consume poisonous berries so that the Game Makers will fail, resulting in the 74th Hunger Games without a victor.  Because there must always be a victor, the two are allowed to live. Many believed their actions as an act of defiance, particularly President Snow who could foreshadow an upcoming rebellion as a result.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy is immensely likeable. They were hard to read at times due to the violence but the story offers highly likeable characters in which readers will find themselves able to relate to one or more characters keeping them feverishly reading the series.  Suzanne Collins successfully conveys Katniss’ sadness over her losses and her inherent strength to climb back out of her pain to cope with the next bad thing.  Katniss does not live a life of illusion. She recognizes the ugliness in her world, her desire for change, but also her acceptance that this may be all she ever knows. Readers will learn a lesson that’s not metaphorical, or even the most inspirational, but what a reader may take from The Hunger Games is that making the best of a bad situation and finding a way to cope may be life’s only choice at times. And, even if the characters lack hope, the story is so compelling that the desire for success of these characters will have most readers believing they somehow can offer their strength and courage to aid Katniss and Peeta. The Hunger Games, and the entire trilogy offers a highly suspenseful and philosophical action-adventure with elements of romance in these YA novels that tweens will be eager to read. Other books that tweens may also enjoy that are set in dystopian futures and are specified as tween literature include, Among the Betrayed (Shadow Children #3) by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1) by Jeanne DuPrau, and The Unwanteds (The Unwanteds #1) by Lisa McMann.

Yee, L. (2003). Millicent Min, girl genius. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 5.7
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Subjects: Gifted children, friendship, Chinese Americans, Diaries, School, Volleyball.

The smarter you are the harder it can be.

Millie learned to read when she was only three years old and by the time she entered kindergarten she was kicked out because she was too smart. She started high school when she was only 10-years-old, managed to skip another grade and will be graduating high school next school year. Currently, Millie is only 11-years-old, literally a genius, or that’s what the tests say. She can excel beyond that of even current college students but totally clueless when it comes to a social life.

Millie is often left out, not for any logical reason she can comprehend but rather she’s disliked for breaking and setting new grading curves that every other student older than her must meet. Because of it, almost no one wants her as a friend. She’s ecstatic when a student at the local community college becomes her friend for the sole reason to use Millie to do her psychology homework. How will Millie ever fit in? All is about to change when her mother decides it’s time for her to do something her own age. Her mom signs her up for volleyball camp where she meets Emily who is new to town. Being a little overweight Emily knows what being different can be like. Millie who wants to give being “normal” a try, realizes she has to pretend to be someone she’s not. And, when she has to tutor Stanford Wong who doesn’t want anyone to know he’s being tutored by Millie, and both Emily and Stanford start liking one another everything becomes all the more complicated. Emily misunderstands when she sees the two at the library during one study session. Emily believes Stanford is tutoring Millie. This actually helps Millie keep up her disguise of not being a genius and Stanford for once is viewed as smart and likes it. Through ups and downs, normal Emily and genius Millie learn that BFF’s is possible.

This is a fun, quirky and heartwarming story that anyone who’s ever felt smarter than the average person may be able to easily relate to. But also, anyone for whatever reason has been labeled as a social outcast will be able to identify with. Millicent Min, Girl Genius is an excellent book for tweens. It’s a good book that teaches the importance of trust, honesty, and empathy as you read how everything gets more and more complicated between Stanford, Millie, and Emily. If you like Millicent Min, Girl Genius then you may also want to read other Lisa Yee books such as; So Totally Emily Ebers and Stanford Wong Flunks Out Big Time. All three of these Lisa Yee books can be read in any order as each book individually tells the events of the summer from the point of view of either Millie, Emily, or Stanford. You may also enjoy reading Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan, Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass, and The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng.

Paulsen, G. (1987). Hatchet. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
1995 ALA Notable Children’s Book
1988 Newbery Honor
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 6.0
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Subject: Survival, Divorce, Wilderness, Canada
Brian’s Saga:
1 – Hatchet
2 – The River
3 – Brian’s Winter
4 – Brian’s Hun

“And the last thought he had that morning as he closed his eyes was: I hope the tornado hit the moose.”

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is about a Brian Robeson, a 13-year-old boy that’s trying mostly to cope with his parent’s divorce, and the reason for the divorce, he saw his mother kissing another man, something neither parent is aware that he knows. Now that his parents are divorced he is being sent by plane to northern Canada for his first mandated visitation. Before he departs, his mother gives him a hatchet that she thinks will be a handy tool in the wilderness. The hatchet, when the time arises will serve as a symbol of his maturity into manhood.

As he travels in a plane with cargo and the only other person, the pilot he is left with ample time to think about his life’s sorrows unit captain has a heart attack and Brian with no help from air traffic control must crash land the plane into a lake somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. While in shock for the first day or two, he is starving, in pain, and highly hopefully he will be rescued shortly. As time goes on and a rescue seems unrealistic, he learns to fend for himself through trial and error. He eats berries that make him sick, and then finds raspberries with a bear nearby. He accidently injures himself trying to protect his food from porcupine that his trespassed into his rocky camp. Thankfully from all of the nature/survival shows he watched on television, Brian is able to light a fire using his hatchet against the stones. Now warm, full with berries he adventures out to try fishing. He enjoys his fish and attempts hunting birds but soon after is attacked by a moose, severally injuring him and almost simultaneously a treacherous storm destroys his shelter. Once again Brian is feeling broken and discouraged. The following day after the storm, Brian is able to see more of the plane has resurfaced and goes to claim whatever emergency supplies that may aid him.  And as he once again tries to reestablish himself with shelter and food for survival in the wilderness a plane lands on the lake, and Brian in utter disbelief continues his daily routine not understanding he is finally being rescued after spending fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of his hatched given to him by his mother..

Hatchet will easily appeal to both boy and girls, even though the protagonist is a boy. Topics of parents divorcing, custody, ruminating thoughts, helplessness, and internal strength to survive are not gender specific. It’s a story about survival, making the best of a situation no bad it seems, finding hope even if it’s the smallest of things or memories from our past. Gary Paulsen has written a coming of age story with the wilderness as the backdrop. Readers will be on the edges of their seats wondering how Brian will manage?, will he survive?, can he figure out how to hunt for food?, will he make a fire?, and, will he ever be rescued? Paulsen describes the wilderness where Brian has crashed and his shelter with immense detail so the story and the reader’s experience is all the more realistic. It will be hard to feel sorry for Brian as he encounters difficulties but also the reader will want to cheer him on as he starts to piece together ways to improve his daily life. Those that enjoyed Hatchet may also enjoy reading the other Brian’s Saga books (The River, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Hunt) as well as wilderness survival stories such as; My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry, and Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert.

Reilly, P.R. (2002). Pictures of Hollis Wooods. Wendy Lamb Books.
2003 ALA Notable Children’s Book
2003 Newbery Honor Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 6.4
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Subjects: Family life, Orphans, Artist, Foster home care, Old age, New York (state), Love

“If someone looks into your eyes, I read in a book one time, he’ll see right into your soul. I didn’t want anyone to see into my soul.” – Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods is a story of the power of love, and the way it changes forever the life of twelve year old Hollis Woods, an orphan, and abandoned as a baby. Feeling deeply unwanted and unloved, Hollis is moved from one foster home to another, fueling the ever growing anger inside of her. Unable to bond or connect with any of the foster families she has been placed with, Hollis runs away from most of them before they have a chance to request she be removed.  Hollis is eventually placed with a real family; a father, the Old Man, Izzy, the mother, and a boy named Steven. The Regan’s grow to love Hollis and want to adopt her, but after a tragic accident injures both Hollis and Steven, she runs away again, feeling guilty and responsible for what happened. She vows never to return, convincing herself that they didn’t really want her after all.

Hollis’  heart is softened, when she is placed with an elderly retired art teacher, Josie, and her cat Henry. It is here that Hollis learns to give of herself, and to find an appreciation in her talent of drawing, opening up to give love and be loved as she helps Josie who suffers from memory loss, in her day to day living. Hollis’ social worker, Mrs. Mustard, realizes Josie’s problem and prepares to place Hollis in a different foster home yet again. To prevent being removed from Josie’s care, leaving Josie alone, Hollis decides to run away and take Josie with her. They run to the Regan’s summer home, currently boarded up for the winter. Here the two of them spend Christmas together, sharing homemade gifts and love. And, alerted by social services, the Regan’s know just where to find Hollis; the one place she called home. .. In the end, love wins, for all!

This story, while written as a tween novel, and is rich with emotion and experiences many can relate to. Feelings of insecurity, loneliness, self-doubt, anger, and hurt, are emotions we can all identify with, just as feelings of love and the need to belong are. Pictures of Hollis Woods is a treasure with the turn of each page, a story you won’t want to end. The lessons of love woven through the pages of this book, much like Hollis’ drawings of her memories, will remain with the reader forever. Those who enjoyed the books Wild Things by Clay Carmichael, or The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron will find Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff an inspirational and memorable novel.

Scott, M. (2007). The alchemyst. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
Interest Level: YA
Reading Level: 6.4
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Nicholas Flamel, John Dee, Alchemists, Magic, Supernatural, Brothers and sisters, Twins, San Francisco (Calif.), Occult, Paranormal.
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel:
1 – The Alchemyst
2- The Magician
3 – The Sorceress
4 – The Necromancer
5 – The Warlock
6 – The Enchantress

He holds the secret that can end the world

The story begins in The Alchemyst with an attack on a bookstore in San Francisco by Dr. John Dee and there gollums, creatures he created.  They steal the Book of Mage from the store, which was being protected by Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist.  During this battle for the book, Josh, an employee in the store, holds on to the last two pages of the book, which he tears out keeps in his procession.  These pages are critical for the intent of Dee and his employer, the Dark Guardian Morrigan.  During this, Flamel’s wife is taken hostage by Dee and his being held in ransom for those last pages.  Sophie, Josh’s twin sister, is also there when this occurs. Flamel takes the twins to see Scathach, a second generation Elder, for her assistance to rescue Perenelle. They are again attacked by Dee and his gollums, and escape once again. They go to Marin County and see Hektate, an Elder who lives in an alternate realm from the one the twins are familiar with.  Her powers are rooted in a giant tree that she lives in, that is filled with many rooms.  She takes them in, and shows Sophie her aura, the root of her powers.  In the Book of Mage, it is talked about twins, one with gold and one with a silver aura that will have great power and influence on events of the future.  Before she has time to bring Josh’s aura out, her realm is attacked, by Morrigan and her forces, including Dee.  Her tree is destroyed, and with it, she dies.  Flamel, Scathach, and the twins escape, and drive to Ojai, where they go to see the Witch of Endor.  The Witch is one of a few that can awaken Josh’s aura and teach both he and Sophie how to use their powers.  Before that can happen, Dee finds them and awakens all the dead in the area with is necromancer skills.  They go after Flamel and group, but they escape to Paris via a leygate, a means to travel immediately from one location to another.  They escape in time, and leave the Witch to destroy the dead and survive the attack.

Nicolas Flamel, is also known as Nick Fleming, a bookstore owner who, unbeknownst to the student that works for him, is an alchemist and immortal, born in France in 1330.  Flamel is the keeper of the Book of Mage.  His immortality comes from a spell in the book that needs to be done each month to maintain immortality.  Nicolas has become a master alchemist, able to turn metals to gold and other such changes. Perenelle Flamel, Nicolas’ wife, is also immortal, who is captured by the evil forces of the story and held captive.  She has the power to communicate with ghosts and other spirits.  She also has studied more of the magic of the book, and is very adept at those arts. Josh and Sophie, twins that become a part of the story as Josh works for Nick in his bookstore and Sophie works with Perenelle in the coffee shop across the street.  When the first confrontation with the evil forces begins, Josh and Sophie are swept up into the battle and later discover that they may be the twins spoken of in the Book of Mage.

Dr. John Dee, also an immortal, desires the Book of Mage for himself and those he works for.  He can create creatures such as gollums, creatures of mud and slime, and is a practiced necromancer, one that can raise the dead.  Scathach, also known as Scatty is known in mythology as the Warrior Maid, the King Maker, the Daemon Slayer, she is a second generation Elder, a being older than man.  She is asked by Nicolas, to assist in the rescue of his wife, Perenelle. Morrigan, a first generation Dark Elder, very powerful, who has hired Dee to work for her in gaining the Book of Mage, which would allow her to control humankind.  She was once known as the Crow Goddess and the Goddess of Death and Destruction.  She is able to summon birds and flying animals to do her bidding. Hektate: Also a first generation Elder, but not from the Dark side.  She has a kingdom in an alternate realm, in the center of which is a tree that sustains her.  At the start of the day, she is a very young girl; as the day wears on, she ages, until at night, she is an old woman.  Her powers are great and she awakens the magic, the aura, in Sophie but does not have time to do so in Josh, before attacked by Morrigan and Dr. Dee. The Witch of Endor, a witch, living in Ojai, California, who the group goes to for hiding and she provides a gate for them to escape to, to Paris, Nicholas’ birthplace.

This is the first book in the Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series (The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock, The Enchantress).  It is well written, entrancing and draws the reader in.  After finishing, most readers will immediately want to get the second book of the series due to the first intense cliffhanging conclusion.  And, as the character Perenelle states at the end of the book, “On the contrary, it is now only just beginning.” Those who have read novels by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians or Kane Chronicles), Philip Kerr’s Children of the Lamp series, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series will most likely enjoy this slightly more mature tale as Michael Scott combines modernism with various aspects of mythology and legends throughout the span of time. This is an amazingly enthralling story, filled with mythological gods, vampires, werewolves, and even the elixir of life.  The Alchemyst is a fabulous read, as is the entire Secret of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.

Tolkein, J.R.R. (1937). The hobbit, or, There and back again. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin
Interest Level: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Middle Earth, Magic, Creatures, Dwarves, Elves, Good and evil, adventures and adventurers, dragons,

Bilbo Baggins is going on an adventure…

This newer edition of The Hobbit offers an introduction written by Christopher Tolkien, recent text corrections, and the inclusion of all of Tolkien’s original drawings and illustrations in color, as well as enhanced maps. This is a wonderfully exciting adventure for those of all ages. Tolkien wrote this story for his own children and tween and young adults will enjoy The Hobbit as it introduces the reader to the world of the Hobbits, Middle-earth, Biblo Baggins, Gandalf the wizard, and the Ring of power.

Bilbo’s home is visited by Gandalf the wizard and thirteen dwarves, inviting Bilbo to be the burglar of the group of adventurers; one side of Bilbo’s family, the Tooks, were adventurers, so he has it in his blood, if not in his initial desire to not go.  While on the journey, the band first runs into a group of Trolls, who want to eat the entire party.  After that escape, they meet Elrond and the elves, who invite the group to stay a while, to eat and rest up for the next part of their travels.  After leaving the elves, sometime later, they take shelter in a cave, and are discovered and captured by the goblins.  It is during this time of the story that Bilbo, who had escaped capture, finds the Ring of Invisibility.  When he would slip it on to his finger, he would become invisible to those that looked where he was.  Using the ring to hide himself, he meets Gollum, deep within the bowels of the goblin kingdom.  Gollum challenges Bilbo to solving riddles; the one who loses grants the other’s wish.  Gollum only wanted his “Precious” back, the ring.  Bilbo, meanwhile, wanted to find an escape route for him and the dwarves, who were being held captive by the elves. Bilbo outsmarts Gollum and escapes with his life. After escaping the goblins, the troop comes against the Wargs, wolves that were associated with the goblins.  The band of adventurers is saved by a group of very large Eagles, which swoop down and save Bilbo and gang from the wolves.  This puts the travelers near their goal, the Lonely Mountain, home of Smaug, the dragon.  Using a map that Gandalf gave the group, they find a hidden back entrance to the mountain.  Bilbo enters and encounters Smaug sleeping, and Bilbo weakens a spot on the dragon’s armor. Eventually when Smaug leaves the cave to seek out the adventures on the outside of the mountain he killed by an arrow shot by Bard through the spot Biblo weakened. As a war is brewing between the dwarves and the humans who want a share of the gold that Thorin refuses, through some burglary and negotiation, Biblo unites the parties, and differences still not yet settled, the humans, dwarves, and elves band together to fight the horde of goblins and Wargs in which Beorn comes to their aid with the eagles which ensures their defeat. When Gandalf rejoins the party, he helps settle things, and peace ensues. As the story concludes, Biblo, along with his portion of the find, journeys back to the house under The Hill, to spend his treasure and life as he wants.

There are many characters in this fantasy tale of Middle Earth (although not called Middle Earth in any of this tale, but clearly so in the later books that follow by J.R.R. Tolkien).  Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who lives under The Hill; the main hero of the story, Bilbo journeys to the Lonely Mountain with his group of adventurers, in search of treasure and more.  Hobbits are smallish/short creatures, not much to venture away from home, with hairy toes and big appetites.  Hired on to be the burglar of the group, a task very much unlike Bilbo (or so it seems at the time).  He shows insight, bravery, and wisdom during the tale, while being described as a timid creature in the beginning of the tale. Gandalf the Wizard, is a white, or good, wizard of the realm.  It is Gandalf that comes to Bilbo to invite him to be the burglar of this fine troop of adventurers. The band of dwarves led by Thorin, heir to the realm Under the Mountain, is a fierce leader.  All of the dwarves are short in stature, but long in the beard.  The rest of the group was:  Dawlin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur.   Each dwarf exhibits their own individuality in their actions, although Kili and Fili, the youngest of the dwarves, are spoken of as if they were one, with similar actions throughout the tale.

The good vs. evil characters/creatures are many in The Hobbit. Evil beings of the story include trolls, spiders, goblins, Wargs, bats, and other frightening creatures.   Each group has their own characteristics, the trolls being slow and very large; the spiders, playing on people’s fears of spiders and having them large enough to overcome a dwarf and capture them for food, the Wargs being wolves, another animal that men fear, while the goblins are described as fearsome and dark beings, the epitome of evil. As the good characters go, most were represented in the book more as individuals, such as Beorn, the man who could transform into a bear, to Elrond and the Elves, to Bard and the humans of the Dale, the lands below the Lonely Mountain, as leaders of their groups.  It appears in the story that the good has leaders that stand out individually, while the bad or evil creatures are seen more as a pack or group.  The only exceptions to this are the eagles.  A magnificent creature in real life, the eagles are very large birds, large enough to pick up a dwarf or hobbit to rescue them, or fight off the goblins during the war at the end. Smaug, the dragon, is an evil creature that is described on its own, primarily because he is one of the last dragons still alive.  He is the hoarder of mounds and mounds of gold and silver, which he obtained while wiping out villages and people/dwarves, stealing their gold and hoarding it in his cave on the Lonely Mountain.  It is Smaug that has killed the dwarves that formerly resided in the Mountain, and is now trying to kill the party of fourteen, who want to lay claim to the riches that Smaug has and return the mountain to the dwarves.  And, Gollum, because of his prominence in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is a vital part of that story, but in The Hobbit, his part is one of many antagonists in the story.  The ring is only seen as a good thing in this story, but his bad side later comes out in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which follows his tale.  In this book, Gollum is the keeper of the way out of the goblin’s lair, and will only assist Bilbo if the hobbit can stump Gollum with a riddle.

The Hobbit, like most fantasy stories, is a tale of good and evil, and the author, near the end of the story, shows how strong individuals can fall victim of corruption when monetary possessions/value are at stake. How the pure of heart, Biblo, and his dominating good can be a positive influence on others in their party. J.R.R. Tolkien within in his writing, beyond storytelling, his voice and opinion is at times apparent and very much welcomed. Those who have already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy will eagerly want to read the backstory found in The Hobbit in the greatest fantasy-adventure book of all time. And for those who have yet to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King), and want to know all the hype behind the phrase“One Right to rule them, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”, shouldn’t hesitate getting a copy of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s’ novels. Tolkien fans may also enjoy the work of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance) with many similar fantasy characters yet still a fresh new story. The Hobbit is scheduled for a three part movie release beginning with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters December 14, 2012.