Horton To Hobbit

A child that books built, from age five to ten.

Five years old, and terrified, my first day at school. I sat on the hard mat and the teacher read Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr Seuss. I became so engrossed I didn’t notice my mother slip out. Horton the elephant, who suffered so much on his mission, helped me get through that day.

Six years old, and absorbed in Calico the Wonder Horse by Virginia Lee Burton, a cowboy adventure. Gripped by an image of the Stewy Stinker, crying in remorse for his wickedness – aware of my own naughtiness perhaps?

Seven years old, and Tintin was my role model for courage and integrity. His stories ranged across sci-fi, supernatural, humour, history, politics, and war; all in realist comic style.

Eight years old, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster opened the world of word-play to me, an addiction that remains today.

Nine years old, and Willard Price books were devoured as pulp adventures with erupting volcanoes, balloon rides and killer anacondas. First inkling I wanted to write books as exciting.

Ten years old, on the ultimate journey with a small hero facing all the forces of evil the universe can muster. The Hobbit kindled my imagination more than any other book. It was, as Tolkien said,

‘an escape to a heightened reality- a world at once more vivid and intense.’

Here’s the 1966 version that I had, with a cover drawing by Tolkien himself (link to all Hobbit covers).

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