DWJ letter in "The Weekend Australian"!

Anita Graham amgraham at cygnus.uwa.edu.au
Sun Apr 22 07:16:18 EDT 2001

Whatever newspaper or magazines I read, I always read the letters page.

In "The Weekend Australian" this week there were several letters in response
to an anti-Harry Potter article that had appeared a few days earlier. (I
can't seem to find a copy of this article). If anyone has access to The
Australian for April 17 perhaps they could see what it was all about?

Anyway, this was the second letter: (I just typed in all the first one,
before realising it was the wrong one!)

"Parents, counsellors and guardians who take up arms against the Harry
Potter fad are living in blissful ignorance of the deep, dank subversives
lurking, secretly, in the darkest corner of the library.

>From the vicious criminal influence of Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and the
Hardy Brothers to the darkly violent iniquitites of the Brothers Grimm -
beware, the lures from the straigt, narrow and average path are everywhere.

Anyone who thinks J.K. Rowling has a satanic slant has never enjoyed the
heady demonic thrill of Susan Cooper, nor paid wicked homage to the demon
queen herself. the deadly (but delicious) Diana Wynne Jones, whose invention
ranges from the death by burning of her grade-nine class, to the
dictatorship of titans at the local bank.

Calm yourselves, there are still the sweek-talking woodland creatures of
Brian Jacques's Redwall who - no, wait, they wage bloody war against each
other, don't they?

But there is one major difference between the grey dramas - the broken
families, the lost siblings, the bitter schoolyards that the pious award
yearly and bestow thankfully upon their wayward juveniles - and the grim,
bloody darkness of the fantasy genre. The difference is that evil always

Kids need evil to be segregated and occasional, separate and defined,
something that can be destroyed with a single valiant sword stroke.

They want the good guys in white hats and the bad guys in black hats, so you
can tell them apart.

Realistic books where parents can't always be trusted, and siblings won't
always defend you, and eveil actions had good intentions, make children
uneasily face a vast grey neutral world where evil might be everywhere or
nowhere, and there is nothing to be done aboutht eblank and nasty habiuts of
mind that make the world a less than holy place.

They make children grow up very fast. Perhaps before they do so they need to
imbibe a little more moral support to get through it, a little more belief
in themselves and our communities, and a bit more trust that good will -
always - win out in the end. Let them make it to eleven before they have to
tackle the real world.

Oh, the books on the moral high ground - the plausible, feasible and
practical renditions of reality - do have one outstanding feature when
approached by a child. They're boring."

F. Jolly

(I am not sure I quite agree with him, but then I'm adult...   Also, I'm
away for a week, so won't be responding to anything else till then.)


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