: [Fwd: Bullying, DWJ, and Harry Potter...]

Jacob Proffitt Jacob at Proffitt.com
Sun Feb 2 17:38:38 EST 2003


---Original Message From: hallieod at indigo.ie
> >Again, it isn't just the beginning of career thing, it's the huge 
> >difference in targeted age.  DWJ is writing for a 12+ 
> audience and JKR 
> >is writing for 8-10.  When it comes to reading, that's a *huge* 
> >difference.  For one, JKR's audience is only just out of 
> picture-books.
> 
> Not saying you're wrong, but on what do you base this assertion?  I 
> checked on Amazon.com, just for  interest, and found both HPs and 
> _Charmed Life_ &  _Lives of Christopher Chant_ shown with recommended 
> reading age as 9-12.  I certainly wouldn't take publisher's 
> recommendations as written in stone, mind you, but you say so 
> categorically that JKR is writing for a particular aged audience, 
> that I got curious.

I base it on the ages of the protagonists.  Intended audience is usually
about two years younger than the protagonist is.  DWJ's heroes tend to be
14ish.  Some come off younger than they are (as I think we've discussed with
Eight Days of Luke before), but for the most part, that's where they fall.
Even when they start younger, they end up in the early teens by the time the
story really picks up.  By that measure, her audience is the 12 year-old
early adolescent.  Her writing and the complexity of her stories also
reflects this.

JKR, OTH, starts off with Harry just turned 11 and acting a bit younger than
that (justifiably for someone living under the stairs).  Which leads me to
estimate her target as the 8-10 range.  Not a huge difference to adults, but
that's early adolescence vs. pre-adolescence and that's a *huge* difference.
Also, her writing style (very descriptive with authorial over-description of
emotional shadings) lends itself *very* well to that age range--much better
than DWJ does.  Teleri (our daughter) is eight and she reads Harry Potter
and *loves* it.  She understands what's going on and it has done a lot to
help her mature as a reader (she read it after I had read it to them).  She
did fine with Chrestomanci when I read it to them, but I'm not sure she
would find it as accessible were she to read it on her own.  And she has not
expressed such desire, while she couldn't wait to pick up Harry Potter after
we had finished.

All of which is interesting to me when considering the maturation of the
Harry Potter series.  Book four, with Harry turning 15 is a definite step up
in maturity and reflects, to me, JKR's knowledge that her audience is more
mature than those reading her first books.  I was gratified to see the
increased story complexity and that she even changed some things
stylistically.

Jacob Proffitt


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