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Hobbit Holidays
By Hilary Williamson

Since one of the big events of the holidays this year will be the release of the New Line Production movie The Fellowship of the Ring on December 19th, it seems natural to look for Rings-related gifts for the season, for hobbits small and large amongst family and friends. Not surprisingly, Tolkien gift items are springing up all over the web like the mushrooms that are Frodo's own favorite food. Here's what I've found so far.

The Tolkien store at sells new issues of the trilogy with dramatic movie art covers in a variety of boxed sets and collector's editions. There are both young adult and 3D pop-up versions of The Hobbit; a Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide; a Fellowship of the Rings Visual Guide with photos of characters and locations including Frodo and Hobbiton, Gandalf and Rivendell, the Ringwraiths and Moria; and a book assessing their creator's place in literary history - J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. The Hobbit: Graphic Novel is an excellent pick for younger readers. There is a Father Christmas Letters Mini-Book written by the author. There is a quiz book, a postcard book and a blank hobbit's journal. There are calendars, maps, diaries, music CD's, toy figurines and more.

A variety of audio versions of Tolkien's epic have been recorded, including the excellent thirteen hour BBC dramatization (see Listening to Lord of the Rings) starring Ian Holm. Recorded Books have their own renditions of the saga of Middle Earth, read by actor Rob Inglis, with individual recordings of The Hobbit and of each volume of the trilogy. At, you can download audiobooks after listening to free samples from: The Hobbit; excerpts from Lord of the Rings (narrated and sung by the author himself) with Elvish chants and an elegy for Boromir; and three volumes of The Silmarillion.

A Lord of the Rings cooperative board game was under our tree last Christmas, and is still available this year. This has been a big hit in my family, though true to the tale, Sauron is extremely hard to beat - it requires luck as well as teamwork to get the ring to the volcano, Mount Doom in Mordor. Game graphics are excellent. There is a definite learning curve on rules of play, but this is one of the few decent cooperative games that I have seen for older kids and adults.

In addition to gift items, there are free resources related to Tolkien's works. Houghton Mifflin make available an online, chapter by chapter Lord of the Rings Teacher's Guide. It can be downloaded and includes a biographical time line for Tolkien's life, as well as quotations from his letters. An online Hobbit Teacher's Guide discusses the author's use of rhymes, riddles and runes. And in preparation for the movie you might like to view its trailers or set up a screensaver on your home computer. The latter range from endearing views of Frodo and his friends in Hobbiton to wizards, frightening orcs and a very spooky Eye of Sauron.

Trailers and screensavers are all available on the official New Line Productions site. In addition, their Store sells movie posters and stationery, T-shirts and baseball caps. You can even bring the characters into your home with life-sized Frodo, Hobbits and Gandalf Standees - now that does seem to be getting a little carried away. But whether or not you give Rings gifts for the holidays, do take a leaf from Tolkien's tomes and celebrate hobbit style - with good food, good friends and good cheer!
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