Hobbits are the kindest, most eccentric beings in all of Middle Earth, the land of fantastic creatures and a great evil ring. Most have heard of this story, or seen the film, but have you ever given the book a try? In case you hadn’t heard, the book is always better than the movie (except in two very rare cases, this not being one of them). Hobbits are the hard-working middle-class who love brewing ales, smoking pipes, gardening, and above all, eating. (There will be a bonus at the end of the discussion questions to see if you remember the names of all the meals, in order.) And hobbits are usually not fond of adventures, especially this one, Bilbo Baggins, until Gandalf the gray wizard lit a fire in his Tookish bones and sent him off with 13 dwarves to recover the lost treasure under the Mountain from Smaug the evil dragon. With many more smaller adventures than it is possible to reference here (or to be covered in the films), The Hobbit is a must-read for anyone who shares any of the same characteristics of a hobbit, elf, dwarf, or wizard, or who would simply enjoy reading of grand adventures from the comfort of their own hobbit-hole.
If you love tales of hobbits, elves, wizards, and dwarves, Tolkein wrote an entire trilogy called The Lord of the Rings. The first book in the series, The Fellowship of the Rings, follows The Hobbit chronologically. If you’ve never read them, but you liked the hobbit, give them a chance. They are on a more adult reading level, but the drama and intrigue is very entertaining.
For a tale of another unlikely hero practically dragged along on an adventure to a faraway land, try Out of the Silent Planet by Tolkien’s colleague and close friend, C.S. Lewis.
For a tale of dragons in a fantasy world and the dynamic characters it takes to impress them, try Dragonflight, for adults, or Dragonsong, for children, both the first in their own series by Anne McCaffrey.
For a much more sinister, more adult, and more fast-paced and dramatic tale (with a character that strongly resembles Gollum), try Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind.
This recipe was chosen as a result of the unexpected guests of dwarves and a wizard, who asked for, among other things, various seed cakes and raspberry jam. This combines about three of those items in a moist cupcake.
Almond Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Raspberry Jam Filling by Cupcake Dangerous
• 1 cup flour
• 2 tbsp poppy seeds
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 egg whites
• 1 tsp almond extract
• 2/3 cup buttermilk
• 1/3 cup sliced almonds
• 1/2 cup Raspberry preserves for filling
In a small bowl mix flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt
In an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Add egg whites and almond extract. Alternate mixing in flour mixture and buttermilk until smooth. Mix in almonds
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool. Core the middles and fill with raspberry.
Cream Cheese Frosting
• 4oz cream cheese
• 1/2 cup butter
• pinch salt
• 2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Beat wet ingredients until smooth, beat in the powdered sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
1. What are some of the physical characteristics of hobbits that you liked/ could relate to most?
2. Bilbo and the others hide the trolls’ treasure; will this prove to be valuable to Bilbo in the end?
3. What are your first impressions of Gollum in the story? Would it have been better if he’d died in the mountain? Why/not? What happens to a mind left alone, manipulated by evil slowly over time? Is he a tragic figure?
4. What did you think of the game of riddles? Were you able to figure out the answer to any before you read them? Be honest.
5. The Eagles appear and save them from the Wargs. Why couldn’t they have just flown Bilbo and co. all the way to the Lonely Mountain?
6. Was there anything about Beorn’s character/ way of life that appealed to you?
7. What are some of the differences between the Lake-Master and Bard? How do you think the Lake Master became that way? If you’ve read LOTR, how is he similar to the Steward of Gondor? Do you think the same mindset possibly overwhelmed both of them over time and affected who they were?
8. How does wealth (and power) often reveal the true character of a person (think of The Master of Laketown and Thorin)? Contrast this with Bilbo. Did Bilbo using the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip show his intelligence and foresight?
9. His family assumes he is dead, can you blame them? How greedy are we for gifts after a friend returns from a trip? Are you ever disappointed when there isn’t one for you? Why? What do you think motivates this desire?
10. Do you think Bilbo has had enough adventure for a lifetime and will live peacefully without that desire for years to come? Would you? Why?
What are the names of all the hobbit meals preferably eaten in a day, in the order that they occur? (Whoever answers correctly deserves a minimum of 2 cupcakes!)