January 3 is the birth date of Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien. He would be 121 years old this year! Whew! He may no longer be physically in this world, but his spirit is very much alive! There is right now a movie out about his book The Hobbit. I hear about it wherever I go.
And another topic that seems to be everywhere these days is choosing One Word to exemplify the new year. About the only word that ever comes to my mind ( besides dinner, treats, and tennis balls) is JOY. I greet each and every day with JOY. And I try to spread JOY wherever I go!
So in honor of Mr. Tolkien, and in honor of my word JOY, I am presenting you with a review of an interesting children’s book called Mr. Bliss. This is a story that Mr. Tolkien wrote for his children around 1937, but the illustrations were too colorful and detailed for it to be economical to be published at that time. So it was not published until 1982 by Houghton Mifflin Co., long after Mr. Tolkien had passed away.
Mr. Bliss is a very eccentric gentleman who wears very tall hats, lives in a very tall house (to have room for his hats), and has a Girabbit for a pet. (That’s a Giraffe/Rabbit animal with a very long neck!). One morning Mr. Bliss decides to buy a motor car. And a real comedy of disasters follows that decision. He has several collisions, and encounters hijacking bears and angry neighbors and shopkeepers. But all turns out well in the end and everyone becomes friends.
The original manuscript for this story was in Mr. Tolkien’s handwriting and included his own watercolor drawings. In the 1982 publication there are replications of his original work on one page with typeset pages facing these so that you can read the story better. ( His handwriting is a bit hard to read!)
The story is suitable for grade school and all the way up to adults. All Tolkien fans probably know of this book and love it no matter what the age. If you were to read it in your classroom I think that the kids would enjoy acting it out. It would make a very fun play to do. They could also dream up their own unique pet like Mr. Bliss’s Girabbit. And make funny hats. It would also be fun to let them make their own story and book. Caitlin over at the roommom has some great instructions for making little books.
I hope that you will check out Mr. Bliss and sing a Happy Birthday for Mr. Tolkien.
And if you would like to see more fabulous Picture Book Reviews please visit Susanna Hill‘s blog as today is Perfect Picture Book Friday!
For your JOYFUL listening pleasure I give you the Muppets Ode to JOY!
And for you Tolkien fans, here is a recording of Mr. Tolkien reading his poem Namarie. EnJOY!