Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

there's lots to say

about the Harry Potter books, and other things as well, but I've got a paper to write and enough else on my plate that I need to take a brief blog break. Back when I've made some progress--or when I'm so stuck that only thinking about something else will unstick me.

(Becca says people always post a lot right after they say they won't...we'll see. She's certainly been the exception to that rule.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

outsmarted myself

I pre-ordered HPVII in February, so I'd have it without having to go to the trouble of the midnight book party. Smart, right?

I checked online around 10 this morning, wondering why UPS hadn't brought it here yet, and saw that it had been delivered yesterday (what's up with that?) and signed for by Murray. Murray? I yelped--it's been stolen!

But no. I had it delivered to work. Yeah. Which is, um, closed today. Someone in some office signed for it yesterday, but it didn't make it to my building.

So I did what any rational person would do and went straight to B&N. (I'll need a teaching and/or research copy anyway, right? Rationalization is my friend.) Started reading at about 11:30, and just finished.

No spoilers here, though I will say that despite the flaws (see the comments over at Raising WEG and Phantom Scribbler) I enjoyed it. I laughed (probably for the first time since about book 3, honestly), I cried (totally a sucker for the expressions of love), I gobbled it up. Yes, there are things that are predictable about it, and yes, I think it got a little exposition-y right at the end, but honestly (ducking now) I think I'll re-read this far more happily than LOTR, which simply annoys me now.

OH! And, for the record, Mrs. Weasley rocks.

Friday, July 20, 2007

the last one, I think...

I can't promise this is the last HP-related thing I'll put up here before I read the novel, but I'm trying. I'm actually working on my paper for August (finally!) and this is the purest procrastination. But so funny!

The brilliant Hank Green sings about his need for the next book...

too funny

I don't know why I missed this one when it was posted, but Maureen Johnson has the best HP ending story I've read. Really, never mind Michiko Kakutani's almost-spoiler-ish review, just read this. And then read this, her follow-up. I promise, no real spoilers in the Maureen Johnson stuff, just good fun.

In the meantime I'm hoping I finish China Mieville's Un Lun Dun today so I can clear the decks for HP VII tomorrow. I think I first heard about it on Big A, Little A, though I also read the Salon review by Laura Miller. As so often happens, I had forgotten what I'd read about it by the time I picked it up, so the Phantom Tollbooth resonances came as a surprise (despite the fact that Laura Miller notes them as well). It's a fabulous read, a more than worthy pre-read to the upcoming adverb-fest (ssh, I do love the HP books, but you've got to have noticed the prose getting flatter and flatter...).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

and a little more

Mrs. Coulter (in comments) pointed me to a nice blog post (or two) by the editors of Harry Potter and International Relations (referred to somewhat sneeringly in the piece I linked to below). And here's a pretty good piece from USA Today that quotes Phil Nel and Karin Westman, great children's lit scholars at Kansas State.

There's lots more, of course, including the nice (if short) interview with Cheryl Klein on Talk of the Nation, and a bunch of other stuff that I'm too lazy to look up again now. You can find it, you're smart!

More summer reading, and some Harry stuff

I've added a few more books to the sidebar since that last post, but it's true that my reading has slowed down a bit. We've had visitors to host, weddings to go to, kids to ferry...and then, I did re-read books I-VI of the Harry Potter series. Nick is within 100 pages of finishing his re-reading, too, which means it looks like he'll get the 7th book before Mariah. (I may have some trouble enforcing that...)

I've also been reading around some of the pre-Potter hype here and there (and contributing to it). This recent piece in Inside Higher Ed annoys me--why is it ok to write about Harry Potter without having read a single one of the books? I agree with McLemee that our job as educators is to introduce students to the world beyond "the familiar, the readily available, the comfortingly familiar"--one way to do that, as he surely knows, is to subject what seems familiar to close analysis, to study its pre-texts and sub-texts (as the students he's referring to quite obviously are doing), to read it against the grain. Teaching children's literature is one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I have, for precisely that reason: students learn to open their eyes and explore the strangeness in the world they've taken for granted.

I'm not staying up until midnight for the next book--I pre-ordered it months ago and will be happy to see it on my doorstep Saturday morning. (I am tempted by the party at BookPeople, though!) I haven't seen any of the films since the second one. I'm not dressing up as Luna Lovegood. But I'm not apologizing, either, for spending a chunk of my summer reading and re-reading Rowling, and I'll be taking a little break to speed through Book VII this weekend. How about you?