The imminent arrival of Harry Potter

A bit more than twenty-four hours until–well, you all know what book is out tomorrow at midnight!

There’s been a lot of hype (Chapters in Toronto is turning an entire city block into Diagon Alley–seriously, that’s all kinds of cool) a lot of people decrying the inherent literary value of the books, more people defending them adamantly, and others insisting that they’re not LIKE other children’s books because they’re GOOD.

Well. Actually, a lot of kids’ books are really good. Maybe… even better than Harry Potter. I firmly maintain that one of the reasons are successful as they are is because they appeal to what I’m calling the middle common denominator. They’re not high literature, but neither are they generic series books. And they’re imaginative, suspenseful, and fun.

Right now, you can`t separate out the books themselves from all the hype and the media circus. It will be interesting to see what happens ten or fifteen years from now when the kids who grew up reading Harry Potter have kids of their own. Will the parent pushing Harry get the same reaction as the mom who’s pushing her son to read the Hardy Boys when all he wants is Captain Underpants? Me, I think Harry Potter will stick around like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Bunnicula.

At any rate, everyone everywhere and all their dogs have all sorts of profound and provocative and inflammatory and inane things to say about Harry. For me, the bottom line is that they’ve created a worldwide phenomena based around a kids’ fantasy book. A book! For children! (And it’s genre, one of those “we still don’t talk about it in polite literary circles” type of books!) And that in and of itself is really kind of magic.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m halfway through rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince…


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