dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #356

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 2 16:22:32 EDT 2001

Joining in on the recommendations: One of the best books I've read recently 
was "The Illustrated Mum" by Jacquelin Wilson. Not fantasy in the least, but 
I found it gripping and moving. Likewise, "The Maestro" by Tim Wynne-Jones, 
though it falls apart a bit in the end.

and back to the Harry Potter discussion: in one article I read, Joanne 
Rowling claimed that one of her absolute favourite books was "I Capture the 
Castle" by Dodie Smith. As a consequence I read the book, and I've 
recommended it here before but I heartily repeat and second the 

Some of the similarities between the Harry Potter books and "The Worst 
Witch" by Jill Murphy, "James and the Giant Peach" and others by Roald Dahl, 
"The Secret of Platform 13" by Eva Ibbotson, "The Once and Future King" by 
T.H.White and "Books of Magic" by Neil Gaiman to name a few, do make one 
wonder. But there's a lovely quote of Terry Pratchett's about how fiction is 
like a big stew: authors can spoon out the stew or add new ingredients, and 
you can't really pull it apart and say what belongs to whom.

And I will say in favor of J.K.Rowling that she is clearly *very* well read, 
and some of what she does with older materials is quite clever. I was 
thrilled to discover, for instance, that Nicholas Flamel was a true historic 
personage, or that a Kappa really *is* a Japanese water demon who is partial 
to cucumbers (next time you're at a sushi restaraunt, order a kappa maki - a 
cucumber roll). Some of her name games reveal a great deal of knowledge and 
a good sense of humor: Cassandra Vlabatsky, author of a book on bad omens 
(Cassandra from Greek mythology, Vlabatsky from Blavatsky); or Durmstrang 
school, a play on the German Romantic/Gothic "Sturm und Drang" movement; or 
the Erkling, which is a sort of runt version of the Erl King... she's a 
challenge to translate, I'll tell you that.



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