Goodnight Hobbiton – Steven Giesbrecht and Anika Loewen

Goodnight Hobbiton by Steven Giesbrecht, Anika Loewen
on November 18, 2020
Genres: Children's, Tolkien
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With all the magic of that wondrous night when thirteen uninvited Dwarves visited Hobbiton, comes Goodnight Hobbiton. Relive that memorable night in the classic style of Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. This book is a parody and has not been prepared, approved, or authorized by the creators of Goodnight Moon or the Hobbit, their heirs or representatives.

I have a desperate longing to share Middle-earth with my children. My oldest is maybe, just about at the age where we could start reading through The Hobbit—but not quite. I had hoped that there was some sort of picture book adaptation that simplified the story and made it accessible to young readers and pre-readers. There isn’t. But I ran across Goodnight Hobbiton and thought it might make do.

Written by Steven Giesbrecht and illustrated by Anika Lowen, Goodnight Hobbiton is a Goodnight Moon pastiche that brings that story’s classic structure into the story of the Hobbit—specifically the day that Gandalf and a dozen dwarves burst into Bilbo Baggins’ house to offer him the opportunity for an adventure.

I’ve always thought the structure of Goodnight Moon to be a bit awkward and, unfortunately, Giesbrecht’s attempts to keep the same poetic rhythm makes Goodnight Hobbiton even more so. There’s no real flow to the story or the poetic rhythm. The majority of the goodnights are dedicated to the dwarves with poor Thorin Oakenshield not even getting named but being called “the dwarf oh so tardy who completely missed the party.” The final panels rhyme wizard with lizard as a way of telling readers what will happen once the group sets out on their adventure.

Maybe my hopes were too high, maybe I had thought too hard about how I would have written it—but I came away from this a bit disappointed. I thought the story would be about Bilbo leaving the Shire for his adventure and saying goodnight and goodbye to all of his favorite things. It would have made a more powerful story, I think.

In terms of book design, Anika Loewen’s illustrations are fun and quite obviously based on the Peter Jackson movies. The dwarves look very similar to their film counterparts. No complaints here. However, when the text has to overlay the illustrations, the author opted for a white transparent text box that just looks amateurish. The book itself is flimsy and the paper quality is mediocre at best. The whole thing screams cheap self-published book. Which is what it is.