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Milkman Dan said on January 1st, 2008 at 5:01 pm

That was an entertaining read, and I’d wager it was more entertaining than the movie.

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Pretty funny. But keep in mind it’s all coming from the man that played himself in a Halloween episode of Scooby Doo.

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[…] David Cross apparently had a few things to say about his appearance in Alvin and the […]

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I love me some David Cross. But not enough to see that flick.

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I have not seen the movie so I can’t really comment to whether it’s an “evil” or “dangerous” “piece of shit “or not. The reason I haven’t seen the movie is because I am not eight years old. I am an adult and don’t see children’s movies.

This is, more or less, what I would like to say to the legions of Harry Potter fans above, say, thirteen who spend a lot of energy complaining about Book #Whatever.

“Oh, gee, the kid’s book disappointed you? I’m so sorry you thought the kid’s book wasn’t up to your high expectations. Maybe you’ll have better luck on the next kid’s book.”

Etc.

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[i]This is, more or less, what I would like to say to the legions of Harry Potter fans above, say, thirteen who spend a lot of energy complaining about Book #Whatever.

“Oh, gee, the kid’s book disappointed you? I’m so sorry you thought the kid’s book wasn’t up to your high expectations. Maybe you’ll have better luck on the next kid’s book.”[/i]

And any time I encounter someone who condescendingly indicates that only those under 13 should read Harry Potter, I either describe how the books grew more mature as Harry did, and by the end can no longer be considered “kid’s books”. Or else I say that just before it’s for children doesn’t mean it can’t be good, and there’s no need to settle for R.L. Stine when you could have C.S. Lewis. Or Nancy Farmer, or Philip Pullman, or Lemony Snicket, or J.R.R. Tolkien, or Neil Gaiman, or J.M. Barrie, or any number of children’s authors who have created well-crafted, enjoyable literature. Or I just call them an elitist douche and move on.

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Elitist? Me? Heck, no. I read Spider-Man comics, watch big, dumb action movies, and stop on Spongebob Squarepants whenever I come across it when flipping channels. I even have read all the Harry Potter books, most of them more than once. And, in fact, I quite enjoyed them. Very fun and readable books.

I never claimed that only kids should read Harry Potter. What I said was that grown men and women *complaining* about the books are really missing the point. It would be like me complaining that the latest “Disney adventures” comic book really let me down with its simplistic plotting and stilted dialogue. Well, what did I expect? It’s a kid’s comic book.

Which is what Harry Potter is: a kid’s book. Specifically written for children. Featuring child characters doing things meant to appeal to children. Found in the children’s section of any bookstore. No matter how fun it is to read — and it is fun — it never aspires to be more than just a kid’s book.

Well, let me back up. I don’t know what it *aspired* to be, but it never *achieved* being more than just a kid’s book.

You can claim that the series matured. I agree. The first book was written for seven year olds, and the last one was written for 13 year olds. Thirty-somethings complaining that Rowling “let them down” need to reconsider just exactly what their expectations for pre-pubescent literature should be. After all, the flaws that people are complaining about in Book 7 (or 6, or 5, or…) are apparent in Book 1 — the ham-fisted plotting, the lack of characterisation, the internally inconsistant world-building. I don’t know why HP fandom can accept these things in Book 1, but not Book 7.

(Tangent: Most of the above could also be written about Star Wars fandom. Now *that’s* a good kid’s movie.)

You claim that children’s literature can be good (as in “high quality”). I completely agree. But these are exceptions that prove the rule. Most children’s literature isn’t good. Heck, most *books* aren’t good. It is very rare for a book to be written that can qualify as unabashedly “good.” Mostly, I’ll settle for “entertaining” or “fun,” and when I come across something that is actually “good,” I cherish it. Harry Potter is not, nor has it ever been, one of these exceptions. I enjoyed the books precisely because I didn’t place unreasonable expectations on them.

I love high quality kid’s lit, and there are some books I really look forward to sharing with my daughter when she’s old enough. Your list is a decent start, although I wouldn’t really consider Tolkien or Gaiman “children’s authors.” Tolkien wrote one kid’s book, and Gaiman has written, I think, two. (I guess I’d consider them good writers, period, who happened to dabble a bit in kid’s lit.) I’d throw Roald Dahl, Madeline L’engle, and Lloyd Alexander on there, as well.

(I confess to not knowing who Nancy Farmer is. And “His Dark Materials” was one of the worst pieces of crap I’ve ever read.)

This actually illustrates my point. C.S. Lewis wrote some good kid’s books. But you don’t see websites devoted to Eustace/Puddleglum slash-fiction (at least, God, I hope not). The books stand well enough on their own; supplements to the canon aren’t necessary. Harry Potter fandom (and, again, I’m referring to the ones who should be old enough to know better) are by turns, obsessive, angry, and bitter, and all over a collection of decent-at-best books for kids.

I wish Rowling would pull a Shatner and tell them to “get a life.” (Of course, she’s only adding to the problem, but that’s a different issue.)

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Can’t believe I forgot Dahl and L’Engle. I considered Lloyd Alexander, but I’ve never read any of his stuff. I also have never read Pullman, but people seem to like him a lot. He never really appealed to me, though. I listed Tolkien and Gaiman because I was doing kid’s books, not kid’s authors.

Nancy Farmer is an amazing author, and I recommend “The Ear, The Eye and The Arm”, an epic mystery story about 3 mutated private eyes in Zimbabwe, year 2194. I make it required reading for my students. “House of the Scorpion”, about a clone of a third-world dictator being raised as his son, is also exceptionally good.

As for Potter, I am quite aware that it’s not at the level of those other authors, and I didn’t mean to give the impression it was. But I did really enjoy it, on the same level I enjoy “Jack of All Trades”. It’s stupid as hell, but it’s a charming, well-done stupid, with some really clever moments.

You say you enjoyed Potter because you didn’t place unreasonable expectations on it. Same here. I placed perfectly reasonable expectations based on the past books, and the last few did not live up. So I think that for people who don’t read much, the books seemed much better than they were, and these people have all the right to complain about a huge drop in quality. And I do still maintain that the intent was for the books to mature, as the sixth and seventh ones can be quite gruesome. But it seems we’re more or less in agreement. Hooray.

Oh, and as long as we’re adding to the list, Paul Zindel, Lois Lowry, and Bruce Coville.

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she’s the man is actually totally awesome. i’m a sucker for teensploitation shakespeare.

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