Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Enduring Power of Children's Books

I just returned from Professor Ron Cooley's excellent lecture on "Harry Potter and the Temporal Prime Directive," the first, in what I would love to be an ongoing series, of the English Undergraduate society's guest lectures. He touched on the theme of "rule breaking" and how the Harry Potter books fit into that tradition in literature,a fine tradition that includes Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the importance of these themes in the moral lessons of the story. His lecture deepened my appreciation for Rowling's books, and got me thinking on the importance of children's literature and juvenilia in general.

Most of my favourite books of all time fall into the category of children's literature. The Hobbit is considered children's lit by many, and I think it's one of the most enduring works of twentieth century fantasy. As mentioned before, Twain's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are two of my favourite books (though despite the critical consensus, I still like Tom Sawyer better). C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are among my most treasured childhood reading memories. Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game was probably the book in high school that had the most direct impact on my life and my own self worth.

Let me not forget Roald Dahl, whose delightfully whimsical, yet dark children's fantasy's are among my favourites as well. Dahl's James and the Giant Peach is a wonderful book, as is Danny, Champion of the World. Of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it's sequel Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator are so good.

Charlie was made into a film back in the 70s - which IMHO isn't nearly as good as the book, and I can pretty much dismiss, apart from Gene Wilder's excellent performance. However, Tim Burton is hard at work crafting a new film version of the book, that he promises will be closer to the theme and feel of the original book. Colour me excited! Burton's films, especially and Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas, have a very Dahlian feel to them. I have high hopes for this one, especially with the exciting casting for the Willy Wonka himself. None other than...


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1 Comments:

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Ewan said...

Big ups to Roald Dahl! As a kid growing up in Australia where the English influence is almost like the American one is here, the man was just about required reading. The Twits, Matilda, George's Marvelous Medicine, all gems.

 

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