Popularity of books

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Apr 10 01:30:40 EDT 2003


On Wed, 9 Apr 2003 9:45:06 +0000, <hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk>
wrote:

>> Villain - Someone or something kids can hate without hindrance
>> 
>I find this a tricky one. If a villain is 'simply' evil, I find myself wondering why? Why are they behaving like that?

I think the question is whether this is something that bothers *children*
when they read.  Kids do tend to like issues that are good or bad, one or
the other, no ambiguity about characters who are sort of good guys.  They
like knowing who to root for and who they can safely hate (because he's
EEEEEvil).  At very young ages there's also a lot of working out of fears
and desires involved; as they get older, they gradually outgrow this.  My
gut feeling--and this is based solely on observing my brood--is that this
interest in absolute good/absolute evil is what prepares them later on to
accept the ambiguity.  They learn the difference between good and evil and
then go on to ask "what if somebody is a little of both?"  The Harry Potter
books are particularly good for this kind of discussion; if Snape hates
Harry, why isn't he ever the Big Bad? and so forth.

I also wonder what ages we're talking about here.  Since "children's books"
covers a wide age range sometimes, whether or not this is true (about
absolute villains) may depend on how old a child you're talking about.

Melissa Proffitt

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