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Breakout the Seedcakes and Blackberry Tarts: Celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Tolkien’s Birth!

6 Jan

January 3 is the 125th birth anniversary of J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien who was born in 1892 in what is now South Africa in Bloemfontein.  Tolkien’s hobbits celebrated their byrding days (birthdays) by giving gifts to others rather than simply receiving gifts themselves.  Tolkien has clearly gifted the world with his writing; his work has been translated into over 60 languages as well as having been adapted as movies and even video games.  This is the perfect time to come in and check some out some of his writing and works he inspired today.

The Hobbit: or, There and Back Again

hobbit
The first and perhaps the most accessible of Tolkien’s novels set in middle earth, The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit whose life is changed when Gandalf the Wizard transforms his safe ordinary life into one of adventure.  My first encounter with it was the cartoon from the late 1970’s, which is available at some BCCLS libraries.  Also available to check out is Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings published as three volumes (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) which continue to be influential on many contemporary writers and is the archetype of High Fantasy.  If you would like to start listening to them right now visit Hoopla for digital audiobook copies.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Films Directed by Peter Jackson

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You can borrow several of the ambitious films that Peter Jackson directed including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from HPL.  I saw The Lord of the Rings trilogy with my father who was overjoyed with the special effects laden and visually stunning adaptations of books he had loved as a teenager.  The Hobbit movies were a bit controversial with some fans due to the addition of new characters and plot lines to allow for three films; check them out and see what you think.

Video Games Set in Middle Earth

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Not satisfied with merely reading or watching about Middle Earth, immerse yourself in the epic battles with Lego The Lord of the Rings for the Xbox 360 or PS3.  The game allows you to unlock over 80 playable Lego versions of Middle Earth characters.   This game is rated E 10+.  For those looking for a more adult game check out Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor for the PS3, PS4, Xbox One, or Xbox 360 rated M; you play as Talion, a Ranger of the Black Gate and is set prior to the events in Lord of the Rings.  Also available is the rated M game The Lord of the Rings. War in the North for Xbox 360.

The Story of Kullervo

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If you are already a fan of Tolkien and looking for something new then you might be intrigued by The Story of Kullervo.  Although only recently published, The Story of Kullervo is an early short story from circa 1915, which is based on part of the Finnish epic Kalevala.   Also included are transcripts of Tolkien’s talks on Kalevala.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski

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Tolkien was part of a literary club in 1932 called the Inklings, who first met at Oxford University. The Inklings critiqued each other’s works and debated the hot topics of the time.  The Fellowship focuses on four of the groups most famous members and it is an interesting look at some of the forces that shaped Tolkien and his work.  Looking for more in-depth insight into Tolkien’s work?  You can also borrow from HPL The Tolkien Companion by J. E. A. Tyler and Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Olsen.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Not Just Superheroes: Three Comics that Feature Regular Heroes

16 Dec

I used to think that comics were just about superheroes, but after attending New York Comic Con and starting to manage the library’s graphic novel collection I’ve discovered just how wrong I was. Superheroes are entertaining and I’ve been really enjoying some of those stories, but comics offer so much more. If you’re looking for something a little different than the following series can get you started.

Lumberjanes

lumberjanes

(Available to borrow in collected editions at the library or in either collected editions or single issues online through Hoopla.)

You may have heard about this series. It won Eisner and Diamond Gem awards in 2015, was nominated as a Young Adult Library Services Association “Great Graphic Novel for Teens”, and a GLAAD Media Award for Best Comic Book. It was also recently featured in a crossover with Gotham Academy, another comic series. Lumberjanes takes place at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types and follows the humorous action-packed adventures of five cabin-mates and best friends. Although it looks like an ordinary sleep-away camp with arts & crafts, badges to earn, and s’mores, it is actually hiding some supernatural secrets. If you ever imagined yourself as one of the Goonies or loved Stranger Things, you’ll probably enjoy Lumberjanes. One of the things I like most about the series is how well-developed the main characters and their friendships are. As they are unraveling ancient mysteries, the girls are shown to be unique individuals who are not stereotypes or generic. And above all they care about and look after one another. As their motto goes, “Friendship to the Max!”

The Backstagers

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(Available in single issues online through Hoopla.)

This is a new series so it won’t take long to catch up. When Jory transfers to a new high school, he’s afraid that he won’t fit in. He somewhat reluctantly, but bravely, decides to join the drama club as an actor but quickly discovers that he might fit in better with the stage crew. Little does he know that there are secret tunnels and rooms hidden beneath the school containing many mysteries. Since it’s a new series, it’s a little unclear what, if anything, the protagonists’ main goal is but in the meantime following their adventures is fun!

The X-Files

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(Available to borrow in collected editions at the library or online through Hoopla.)

The X-Files is my favorite TV series of all time, and if it’s yours too, then you have to check out the comic series. These comics, by Joe Harris, continue the series after the end of Season 9 (but started before 2016’s revival season) so they are subtitled Season 10 and Season 11. They continue in the same manner of the TV series with standalone monster of the week stories intertwined with a larger mythology.

These are just a few of the MANY non-superhero comic series and I haven’t even mentioned the terrific non-fiction graphic novels. If you would like more recommendations stop by the library any time and ask!

-Written by Kim Iacucci, Young Adult Librarian

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