Heroes Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Moses had a speech impediment but persuaded Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. Hans Solo was a smuggler and a scoundrel but risked his life to defeat the Empire.  Dorothy was just a “good, little girl” but destroyed the Wicked Witch of the West.  This and any self-respecting list of reluctant heroes would not be complete without Bilbo Baggins of Bag End.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937

Post Format:  QUOTATIONS 

In 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, introducing the world to Middle Earth and its collection of dwarves, elves, goblins, etc.  I admit (ashamedly) to having only just read it as a grown up.  And so, while Bilbo’s travels through Mirkwood Forest, his run-ins with Gollum and Smaug, and a quite well-written battle with goblins did entertain me, I found myself most drawn to Bilbo himself.  To be sure, Bilbo is the hero of the tale.  But he is also the ultimate homebody who reluctantly leaves his cozy hobbit hole at the start of the journey . Here are a few of my favorite Bilbo quotes/passages:

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures.  Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.”

“This is the dreariest and dullest part of this wretched, tiresome, uncomfortable adventure!  I wish I was back in my hobbit-hole by my own warm fireside with the lamp shining!”

“He was soon fast asleep forgetting all his worries till the morning.  As a matter of fact he was dreaming of eggs and bacon.”

And finally, a quote from Gandalf, the wizard who handpicked Bilbo for the adventure much to the dwarves’ dismay:  “Well done! Mr. Baggins!” he said, clapping Bilbo on the back. “There is always more about you than one expects!”

Question:  Can you add others to the list of reluctant heroes in literature and/or life?

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Please Do Judge This Book By the Cover

A red and white blanket spread out on a green field.  A perfectly frosted cake resting on top.  A hot air balloon flying wildly off the ground.  The front of Lisa Graff’s novel, A Tangle of Knots, features all these images.  I simply had to open this beautifully wrapped story.

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, 2013
Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, 2013

Post format: TOP FIVE REASONS… I Love This Book

  1. The intriguing title and enchanting cover art: Turns out you can judge a book by its cover, at least in this case. This novel, published  in 2013, is like so much of the kid literature coming out these days, crisp prose and one-of-kind ideas.
  2. Very original premise: It’s set in a world where everyone is born with one amazing talent. Oh, and they have to find it.  Still not original enough?  Well, these are no ordinary talents. One character’s talent is speed knitting, another’s is whistling, and still another can float two inches off the ground, perpetually.
  3. Favorite, no-fail book settings: Part of the story takes place in an orphanage. Miss Mallory runs a “home for lost girls” though it’s usually empty. Why? Her talent is matching orphans with the perfect family often within hours of the child’s arrival. Other action takes place in a lost luggage emporium.  Top that for interesting story locales!
  4. Endearing main character: Cady is an orphan with perhaps the most unique gift featured in the book — baking cakes.  But she’s more than just a talented baker.  Upon meeting anyone, Cady can sense the perfect cake for them and then whip one up.
  5. Endearing side characters: The book includes a host of seemingly unrelated characters. But like Dickens, author Graff connects everyone in the end and offers readers a very satisfying finale.
  6. Bonus Bit: Actual cake recipes between chapters! :  The recipes are Cady’s and are named after the people she meets.  I plan on making “Miss Mallory’s Peach Cake.” Graff even has a how-to video for the cake on her website http://www.lisagraff.com/peach-cake-recipe.html

Question:  Do you or someone you know have an interesting talent?

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