Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at
Thu May 19 02:16:23 EDT 2005

Paul, in response to Devra:

> The book that in many ways makes me think of HP#1 is 'Groosham
> Grange', by Anthony Horowitz. Has anyone else read it?

I have a copy in Hebrew, but I've never gotten around to reading it. My own
favorite HP predating lookalike is "The Worst Witch" by Jill Murphy. I have
a bit that I sometimes do in lectures and presentations, where I read out
short descriptions of books which all sound remarkably like "Harry Potter"
but aren't. "The Secret of Platform 13", "The Worst Witch", "Gruesome
Grange", "The Books of Magic", "Thornmallow", "Charmed Life" and "Witch
Week", even carefully selected bits of "James and the Giant Peach" and "The
Sword in the Stone" can be made to sound like Harry Potter. I sometimes show
an illustration of Tim Hunter from "The Books of Magic - Reckonings" where
he's got a scar on his forehead. (For that matter, Dorothy of Oz has a mark
on her forhead that glows and protects her too - the kiss of the Good Witch
of the North).  I always get incredulous responses from the audience. My
point is to show that "Harry Potter" fits in with a long tradition of books
for children, as opposed to being the huge innovation some people think it

On a totally unrelated topic: I've just read "The Wee Free Men" and "A
Hatful of Magic" by Terry Prachett (my favorite books by Pratchett, but
that's not saying much as I haven't read that many of his.) There's a bit in
both of the books about it being polite to always tell the bees what's going
on. This is a recurring theme in DWJ: it is mentioned in "The Power of
Three" and by the honey witch in "Howl's Moving Castle" and even in her
autobiography up on the website. Do any of you know if this is a belief
actually held in some real folklore, or something invented by DWJ and picked
up by Pratchett?

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