I first tried to write a story when I was about seven. It was about a dragon. I remember nothing about it except a philological fact. My mother said nothing about the dragon, but pointed out that one could not say ‘a green great dragon’, but had to say ‘a great green dragon’. I wondered why, and still do. The fact that I remember this is possibly significant, as I do not think I ever tried to write a story again for many years, and was taken up with language.
-Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #163 (to W.H. Auden), 7 June 1955
I still wonder the same thing.
I’ve been reading The Hobbit to the kids every night for a couple weeks. 2nd time through. We are nearly done. The questions they ask are so fun:
Daughter: Daddy! There are so many black birds. Black Birds, Ravens, Crows, the Thrush. They are all black.
Son: Daddy, what were those big things from before they went over the mountain? (Goblins?) No, no. There were three of them. (Oh, trolls. They were trolls) Yes. They are fat. (Yep. Usually.)
Daughter: Daddy, who is the guy (Bard) talking to? (He’s talking to his arrow, the Black Arrow.) Um, why is he talking to his arrow? (He’s talking about how cool it is and how he’s going to use it to kill the dragon.) Why? (To tell us about it, so we know how cool it is.) Hmmm, OK.
Youngest Daughter: Daddy Read Chappa! (Chapter)
Youngest Son: ROOOOAAAAARRRR!!!! (Are you a dragon?) YES!