Tuesday, December 21, 2004

And the Mighty Goddess....

looked down at her people, and spoke. She proclaimed that the wonderful, glorious gift promised oh so long ago is no longer so far away.

Yes, that's right, true believers. J.K. Rowling announced in a press conference yesterday that she's finished writing book six of the Harry Potter series. Although a formal publication date has yet to be announced, our lady of letters says she's happy with Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince.

Okay, I'm being a little bit snarky. I just find it odd that a conference was held to announce that she's done with it. Not that it's being published, but that she's done writing it. Get ready for the publicity blitzkrieg.

I have nothing against her books. Although not brilliant, they're decent enough. And in 50 years we'll see how important they end up being. If nothing else she's gotten lots of people reading. When I taught last year, hardly anyone is my freshman classes read the newspaper, or read much of anything. But everyone, and I mean everyone, had read at least one Harry Potter book. That's a lot of publishing power, and it gives hope that at least some of these kids go on to read other things.

At least they better, because otherwise all us writers are bashing our heads against the wall for no reason.



Anonymous said...

You are being snarky :P I disagree about their brilliance and think they are some of the best written children's books since possibly Dahl. Actually, I think they are some of the best written books out there. I have full belief that they will stand the test of time.

I do agree about the press conference though, that it's a bit silly for someone just finishing a book, but I'm a hypocrite because seeing that made me a little excited to get the next book in the series. Oh well.

And again, like you, I agree that anything that gets people (particularly kids) reading is -generally speaking- a positive measure. Even those ridiculous Goosebumps books. More power to them all.


Hebdomeros said...

I'd put Lloyd Alexander or Madeleine L'Engle (and maybe even Pullman) before Rowling, but I still think the Potter books are good. Probably just personal preference. Classic? We'll just have to wait and see.

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Okay, I'm officially frightened. I just finished posting on my blog about the new Harry Potter book. Hee hee.

I agree with you -- they're not the best written (way, WAY too many adverbs for my professional tastes) but they definitely flow and are well readable. I mean, she's definitely got the hooks to get a reader sucked in.

Wow, I agree about Madeleine L'Engle -- her stuff was SUPER cool. I'd kind of like to reread her stuff now, I'll bet I still could enjoy it. Also, I loved Lloyd Alexander when I was a kid. The High King was an intense book.

Anonymous said...

I stand by my position on Rowling. Don't know, it might be shaped by the fact that I worked at a bookstore for a summer back home in Memphis, where we actually had people who were scared of their kids reading Harry Potter. Same people who picked up The Odyssey and Merlin for their kids' required reading. Silly folk. Either way, I know that when I read Harry Potter, I completely escape into another realm with hours slipping away. I think bringing that out in any reader (millions of readers) is a worthy testament to any author. The only other books that have really sucked me in the past year are probably David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, and Peter Straub's Lost Boy, Lost Girl. Might be missing a couple. What about for all of you?

As to L'Engle, since I just finally read A Wrinkle in Time recently... She is certainly a pioneer, and it is an excellent tale, but reading it now, I had trouble getting past the down-your-throat religious preaching. Granted, probably doesn't seem so down your throat in the fourth grade, but it did color my feelings of the book. Wonder what I'd think if I reread The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Does the religious aspect bother you all? Or are you for it (i.e. providing good morals in shaping young minds, etc)? Ambivalent?

I guess this leads to the question of what are the qualities of a brilliant children's book? Are they books that have to cater to both children and adults?

The books that really grabbed me as a kid certainly show my girly side: The Little Princess, the Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, some book whose title escapes me about a girl who hides from her evil (aunts?) in the attic with dolls that come to life, and a not so girly book, My Side of the Mountain. Anything about kids escaping to a secret world sans adults intrigued me.

Wow. A lot more came out than intended. Okay, will take some breathing room now...


Hebdomeros said...

Miss L-
Loved the Secret Garden. Read it in fourth grade, and our teacher treated us to the movie version at some small theatre in the middle of nowhere. Strangely, only the boys showed up.
The religion didn't bother me with L'Engle when I re-read it. And I don't think it's quite so obvious in CS Lewis; I think it's more symbolic. But then I haven't read those in years, so I could be wrong. It's a tough comparison. They (L'Engle, Alexander, and Lewis) are written for a slightly younger age group. At least I think they are, if you exclude L'Engle's a Swiftly Tilting Planet. For me they hold up. Perhaps I wouldn't feel the same if I hadn't read them as a kid.


I loved L'Engle. Still love. I re-read the tesseract trilogy a couple years ago, and still really liked them. And one of my great memories as a child is seeing Lloyd Alexander read in a children's bookstore when I was 8. He was wonderful; a perfect reader for his material. Glad you know his books; no-one I know seems to have heard of him.
I've been thinking about kids books all day, and which ones really stuck with me. L'Engle, Alexander, Lewis all certainly impacted what kinds of things I like to read. My head still really sits in the fantasy camp, even if I move away from time to time. I can throw John Bellairs in there as well, because his books scared the hell out of me. But the book that still sticks with me on an emotional level is Bridge to Terebithia (sp?). I remember it made me cry, and any book that teaches kids about death in an honest way is high on my list. Too bad crazy people keep trying to ban it.

Anonymous said...

Still have yet to read Bridge to Terebithia (sp?). I do remember my fourth grade teacher reading Where the Red Fern Grows to us. Talk about weeping.

Of course, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume were constant companions as well. Congrats to Blume for her recent lifetime achievement award with NBA.


LadyLitBlitzin said...

Yeah, I mentioned on Jen's blog the other day about Bridge to Terabithia -- the fact that somehow I didn't read that when I was a kid. Strange because it sounds really good.

Miss L - wow, I don't recall any religious stuff about the L'Engle tesseract books, but then again, yeah, I was in the fourth grade. Hmm... I should reread them, maybe, as soon as this reading list I already have dies down. I have a houseguest and haven't been reading much this week, so I'm only halfway through with Dhalgren still! And I've got more books just waiting to be read...

Hebdomeros -- wow, you saw Lloyd Alexander read! That's awesome! Yeah, I loved all those books, from Book of Three on. I actually have encountered a few people who've read them... had a conversation recently with some friends about them. Awesome stuff.