Rosen, Rowling, Hurling

Over at the Guardian today, Michael Rosen clarifies what he really said about Harry Potter:

Towards the end, he asked me about Harry Potter, and I made two main points: that I, personally, as an adult reader haven't read much of the series, (two and a half books) and it isn't to my taste as an adult reader; that young readers reading on their own (eg five to seven-year-olds) find Harry Potter quite tough going whereas they often find Enid Blyton easier.

From a long interview, all that remained of my contribution was a series of misquotations and extrapolations to the effect that I thought the Harry Potter books "inappropriate" and "boring". Yesterday, this "news" seemed to have spread like wildfire.

He also makes the point that a lot of space has been given over to this - like we're all dying for a Rosen-Rowling feud (which one do you think gets to be Norman Mailer?), while so little space is given to what he sees as big stories:

The world of children's books is full of extraordinary stories of people writing in adversity, of new and exciting experimental writing, of huge successes post-HP, of new publishers trying things out. It's also full of stories about how things could be improved or helped through television and radio, changes to the school curriculum and the library service.

It's true that stories on children's writing can be a hard sell - particularly in a world where newspaper coverage of books seems to shrink daily. But there's also this vestigial attitude that there is automatically something twee or precious about children's books. I laughed today at a headline for a review by Tegan Tigani of the wonderful Oliver Jeffers book The Way Back Home : Children's Books That Won't Make You Hurl.


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