Monday, March 30, 2009

"So, it's settled. Pullman is sinister."

Philip Pullman
(Image from Philip Pullman)

An old Ozark friend who teaches elementary children has posted an interesting response to my Pullman inquiry:
I might make a suggestion. I assume that all of you are adults; therefore, you are reading Pullman's and Rowling's books from that perspective. If you read Pullman's series along with 5th and 6th graders, then very rarely does any religious discussion arise. Children LOVE any book where a child overcomes adults. Books where they must survive using their wits against the adult world in general. When I was a child, it was the Boxcar Children who survived on their own, or Madeline l'engle's books. After having spent years now in discussion with children about Harry Potter, they identify with his struggle to overcome the adult world. Mean teachers, horrible foster family, etc. Bad guys out to get you, or the bad kid that the good ones ultimately overcome. I have always maintained that the genius of Pullman and Rowling was mixing the above with a little magic. It takes a rare elementary student to assess these books as good vs evil in a religious sense.

Well, just a few thoughts from an elementary literacy person!

Since these two authors have primarily made their retirement stash from selling to elementary students then I applaud them for cluing into the buying audience. Of course, the great aspect, of both writers, I believe, is giving adults something to discuss also!
Jeanie's central point is this:
"Children LOVE any book where a child overcomes adults."
As I wrote in my reply:
So, it's settled. Pullman is sinister.
I'm glad that this issue has been settled. I now know that I must forbid my children to read His Dark Materials. Still awaiting answer is the question of Pullman's shallowness.

But to be serious for at least one moment . . . Jeanie has clearly identified a crucial element in Pullman's appeal for young readers. Children defeating adults. That's also true of Coraline and The Graveyard Book, both by Neil Gaiman.

Now if only I could find a book that shows an adult like me how to defeat adults.

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At 8:44 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

"Now if only I could find a book that shows an adult like me how to defeat adults."

How about, "The Prince." ;)

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I was hoping not to stoop as low as those whom I want to defeat.

But that is a book offering advice.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no desire to defeat you, nephew, just hold my own.
However, in my case, in our battle of wits you are fighting an unarmed man.....or halfway-armed, anyway.
But my addiction to this blog keeps me here, regardless. I am compelled to keep trying.
If I could only get JK to defend me................

At 4:02 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But you do have that bionically enhanced hip that can surely defeat even the next 'wild steer' to attack.

Jeffery Hodges

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