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The Forum > Article Comments > Harry Potter will potter on > Comments

Harry Potter will potter on : Comments

By Mark S. Lawson, published 1/10/2007

What ingredient makes a book well loved and popular? Literary critics may not agree but Enid Blyton worked it out, and J.K. Rowling has too.

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I enjoyed this excursion into children's literature - I was born in the early 60s and I remember many of the books you mentioned. The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and the like. I remember other books of my childhood - Biggles, William... Upon reflection they were a very anglo-centric lot of stories. Later, as they were translated into English, I read Tintin, which I still love. A bit later, at the urging of my mother I read the Billabong books, by Mary Grant Bruce. And of course there were the Donald Duck cartoons. (I much preferred Donald to Mickey Mouse.) I remember the square eggs story with great affection - the lost Andean tribe whose members sang "Dixie". Donald introduced himself to them saying "I'm from the south myself, South Duckberg". I didn't have a clue what he was going on about, but I loved it.

I suppose none of it was great literature, but I enjoyed it. Strong stories, characters who I wanted to be like (Tintin and Biggles in particular, Donald Duck less so) and definitely accessible writing.

I also liked the optimism. Good usually triumphed over evil, but not without a struggle. Life was full of adventure - pearl diving, climbing mountains, lost tribes, searching for and finding buried treasure, fighting a just war (Biggles and Mary Grant Bruce - in retrospect a bit dodgy). Now that I have children of my own, I find a lot of modern children's literature fairly bleak. AIDS, youth suicide... I even saw a picture book for pre-schoolers where the family cat died. (Strewth.) I think part of the appeal of the Harry Potter stories are their optimism. For that and the other reasons you mentioned, I agree they will probably live on.
Posted by pineapple, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 10:23:19 PM
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Bram Stoker's other novels didn't quite drop entirely from memory. The Lair of the White Worm was made into a great film by Ken Russell (well, 'great' in the sense that we had a great time watching it and hissing at each other afterwards). It was one of the earliest films starring Hugh Grant. The Jewel of Seven Stars was also adapted as a fairly creepy film. I can't remember its name - it might have had Charlton Heston in it. But none of them were as good as Dracula.
Posted by pineapple, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 10:36:01 PM
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There is a relatively new company on the children's literature scene which is re-publishing some of the more timeless sort of adventure stories...Fidra Books (and an about to be bookshop in Edinburgh) is working on the principle that some of the "best" (not necessarily literary best) books for children should be available again. So far Fidra is doing an excellent job and needs to be encouraged if it is to continue. Any fans of Pardoe, ME Allan, Elinor Lyon, Joanna Cannan etc can breathe a sigh of nostalgic relief.
There's no Blyton on the Fidra list (hardly necessary) but what is there is proof that good stories last even when they are not great literature.
Posted by Communicat, Wednesday, 3 October 2007 4:25:22 PM
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They're a bit of a problem those books if you dont have an appreciation of just how real the door between this physical world and the spirit world really is.
Its not Harry and his companions that are the problem but what they show the reader how- to- do.
Witchcraft practices are the door openner. And this, the kids are being taught by JK Rowling.
If your a parent youre quite the fool if you allow your child to play those practices. OUIJA is a bad one. As is calling up the dead with two or more children. Dont let your child play with them. If a spirit latches on you're in big trouble trying to get rid of it. They are considerable persistant. Besides the Holy Bible says, all through its RELIABLE pages...dont do magic. Gods talking about hell for dancing with satan. Its not a joke. Institutions have many in them who have done the dance with demon powers and lost.
Posted by Gibo, Sunday, 7 October 2007 8:11:40 PM
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Gibo, have you ever thought about writing children's stories?

You seem to think on their level - maybe you could get rich, like JK Rowling?
Posted by CJ Morgan, Sunday, 7 October 2007 9:56:24 PM
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"Its not Harry and his companions that are the problem but what they show the reader how- to- do.
Witchcraft practices are the door openner. And this, the kids are being taught by JK Rowling.
If your a parent youre quite the fool if you allow your child to play those practices."

I bet you read everything in the bible literally too don't you? Have you never heard of metaphors, allegories and analogies?

The fantastic thing about the Potter series is that they reflect life in modern Britain beautifully. The right wing warmongering politicians and their complicitly jingoistic rightwing press barons waiting to demonise anyone who doesn't agree with such extreme ideologies are all themes beatifully captured by the author. I hope our children understand the books well and are able to distinguish the real good guys from the self-serving ones.

Well done Miss Rowling for capturing and igniting the imaginations of millions of children all around the world.
Posted by Kúvin, Monday, 8 October 2007 7:19:07 PM
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