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A Guide to the Harry Potter Novels


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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction: brief background to major success in children's books - Blyton, Just William, Tolkien, R.L. Stine, Roald Dahl - reflect different models that work; HP titles have something of all of these about them because of the different genres they straddle; Part 2 What is Harry Potter?: how it is written - the unlikely place of a boarding school story at the end of the 20th century, the construction of the stories with their emphasis on complex plotting, the concept of a group of characters who are growing up, the sense of place, the use of magic and its relationship to the powers of darkness; the imaginative genius and the moments of weakness; what it is saying about - racial tolerance/equality, the importance of family/friends/loyalty, the nature of power, the role of education; Part 3 Beyond the story, why is Harry Potter so much more successful than anything else?: the particular qualities of HP; the ability to speak directly to children as readers; psychological and sociological reasons centering around child-empowerment and a specific understanding of the child's view of the world; Part 4 How was the HP phenomenon achieved?: the dominant role of HP in the last three years and the role of marketing in achieving it; the self-fulfilling effect of over-popular authors in the context of how children choose what they read; the reversing of the norm in which adults rather than children themselves are the initial selectors; Part 5 The Harry Potter effect: how writing for children may be viewed differently after Harry Potter.

About the Author

Julia Eccleshare is children's books editor of the Guardian (one of the UK's top broadsheets). She has written on children's books for 25 years and regularly appears on BBC programmes and in "The Bookseller." One of her reviews provided blurb for the first paperback edition of "Harry Potter."


"a thoughtful introduction to the phenomenon that began in 1997 with the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"
Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Winter 02-03

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