When my son was 6 years old, I read all four volumes of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to him as part of our bedtime reading. It took months to finish them all, but we had a wonderful time. One of my favorite memories of this marathon was the night we read the scene where Bilbo finds the Ring in Gollum's cave. As the action mounted, my son became increasingly restless, and by the end of the chapter, was practically sitting on my head, scanning the room like a lemur, with eyes as big as saucers.
"What's the matter?" I asked.I flashed back to that scene tonight while reading Tim Bray's Ongoing blog. He is currently reading LOTR to his 8 year-old son, and printed out the wonderful MearthMap Map of Middle Earth as a companion to the book. As he says,
"Your Gollum voice was reeaallly scary!"
...it’s astounding. It’s in vector format (a 1.2M PDF), which means effectively infinite scaling, which it turns out you really need if you want to be able to locate Dimrill Dale or Durthang. I extracted just the part of the map where the action occurs and printed it out on a huge glossy sheet of paper and it was a fine companion to the story.It is, indeed, a lovely map. I've got it stashed away on my hard drive against future need, which will hopefully be sometime before my son graduates from high school. This past December, I got new hope that that might actually come true. New Line Cinema announced that Peter Jackson will indeed be filming not only The Hobbit but also another LOTR prequel. If they stay on their proposed schedule, it looks like we will be needing that map around 2010 - 2011 when the films are released.
Of course, after we watch them, we'll have to keep the map out a bit longer, while we watch the entire LOTR cycle all over again on DVD, possibly even in HD.