Tuesday, July 31, 2007

J. K. Rowling's Coattails

Hatching Magic is this week's pick for the Washington Post's KidsPost Summer of Magical Reading Book Club.

It's a weird ride, here on the long coattails of J. K. Rowling. On the one hand, it has to feel good to see fantasy books on so many "What to read next" lists. And I personally get a huge lift just being on the same list as such greats as Lloyd Alexander, Ursula LeGuin, Susan Cooper, and Diana Wynne Jones. It's great company to keep. But its discouraging and depressing to read about research that shows that just because a young reader is wild about Harry, it doesn't follow they'll tackle another fantasy writer, or even another book at all.

So I think I'm not alone in wondering how bumpy the landing is going to be.

If you haven't read it, check out Ron Charles's editorial on the Post website, "Harry Potter and the Death of Reading."

I'm looking forward to exploring a used bookstore in Maine, where I can put my hand on a battered paperback, and make my own small, personal rediscovery. Maybe it will be a literary novel, a mystery, some great nature writing...maybe even a fantasy.

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