some kids' books are for kids

Last night, or early morning depending on your definition of “night”, I finished the first of the Harry Potter books.

I got it free at some book event years ago, and I’ve been meaning to read it since. Many people have recommended the series to me, but I’ve never felt particularly drawn to reading them. Not that I’m elitist about “kid’s books”–I enjoyed Philip Pullman‘s novels, for instance. This means I’ve seen the film before reading the book. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I didn’t enjoy the first two films. I found them long, boring, and two of the three main characters, namely Harry and Ron, were 2-dimensional and badly acted. I often suspected that this was because the books were adapted by hardcore fans of the books who forgot that what works in a book does not necessarily translate to the screen.

Since I was searching for some lightweight reading material recently, I decided to blast through Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone over a couple of nights. I consider it part of popular culture now, so I might as well know first-hand what the fuss is about.

As children’s books they are well-written and possess all the right ingredients that kids love: a world in which magic is possible and even the most ordinary person can become a mighty witch or wizard, a sharp division between the world of adults and the world of children (students versus teachers), parents/guardians who don’t understand children, discovery of a supportive community for your loves and interests, and some good story-telling along the way. If I’d read these books as a child I’m sure I’d have thoroughly enjoyed them.

As an adult the book didn’t do a great deal for me, but I’m not the target audience after all. I appreciate its appeal to children, but I’m faintly surprised that the adults who’ve read the book are so fanatical about it. At least now I can enter into a more well-informed discussion regarding its merits in the future.

More books beckon me to read them…

On the writing side, another story turned up and is demanding to be written. This is the second one that jumped the queue, so I’m going to give it a go and hope it doesn’t peter out mid-way. I think this one might be longer and harder to write than the last. We’ll see. I’ve got vague intimations of where it’s going, but no idea of the ending. Hopefully it will become clear as I transcribe it. I’ll be busy over the weekend so I won’t have much time to devote to its completion.

Fingers crossed I’ll wrestle it into submission before the end of the month. At least I’m back in a more comfortable narrative voice: third person, past tense. Let’s see if it stays that way.