Hobbits inhabited Weber County libraries this week to celebrate the debut of the new Hobbit movie — “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” — from “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson.
The parties, at the Southwest, Main and Pleasant Valley branches of the Weber County Library, featured riddle and trivia games, Hobbit snacks and Hobbit-inspired crafts — creating Hobbit feet, coloring paper dragons and making Hobbit headbands.
Bulbo Boggy, of the Hilltops, also known as Carter Parsons, 8, won the riddle contest held at the Main Branch library.
Henry Brower, 8, dressed in a Hobbit costume his grandmother made, had fun playing “pin the dagger on the spider” in the Main Branch’s paper version of the Murkwood Forest.
Cleverly disguised as fun and games, the Hobbit parties also squeezed some learning into the festivities.
Shaquille Kahn, 9, won a Hobbit calendar in a trivia contest at the Southwest Branch with his recital of a fact shared by librarians at the beginning of the party: “J.R.R. Tolkien fought in World War I, and everyone he knew died except for him and a friend.”
Shaquille was also impressed with the fact that Tolkien and a friend once stole a bus.
The mastermind behind the Hobbit parties is Teresa Lamberson, a huge “Hobbit” fan who works at the Pleasant Valley branch. Lamberson decided to throw a party at her branch, and the Main and Southwest branches followed suit.
Deborah Smith, youth services programming coordinator at the Main Branch, explained her decision: “It’s a perfect time to push the book. ‘The Hobbit’ was bedtime stories for Tolkien’s children, so it’s really accessible for the older elementary school age group.”
“The Hobbit” contains some very important lessons for children, she said. “You have Bilbo, the Hobbit, who doesn’t want to leave his comfort zone. He kind of gets tricked into going on this quest to fight a dragon.
“Throughout the story, he is pitted against different challenges, and he ends up coming to find that he is capable of doing a lot of things. For kids who might not feel like they have a lot of courage or might face challenges or be afraid to try new things, Bilbo is a great example.”
Keanna Stevens, associate business manager at the Southwest Branch, said Tolkien’s stories are a good fit for children looking for something similar to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
“J.R.R. Tolkien is a master fantasy writer. A lot of the kids really like Harry Potter, and they are always looking for stories like Harry Potter, with the same elements: friendship, learning who you are and that kind of stuff.”
Jeff Davis, while watching over his paper-Hobbit-footed children at the Main Branch, admitted he hasn’t read “The Hobbit” but said with a chuckle, “My son has told me I have to read it before I can see the movie. So I’m planning to read it soon.”
Davis also stressed the importance of events like these at local libraries.
“Libraries are really the activity place of the community. It’s where the community can come together and do activities that have to do with learning or making and creating things. That’s what this event is about. It’s really about creating things with your kids and having fun; giving them a connection to learning that they otherwise might not have.”