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Is J K Rowling the Guardian of Our Children’s Minds?

By Periscope @periscopepost
Is J K Rowling the guardian of our children’s minds? J.K. Rowling. Photo credit: Pottermore

The background

J K Rowling, whose multi-million selling series for children based around the adventures of Harry Potter, the boy wizard, has published a novel with some seriously adult themes, The Casual Vacancy. It’s caused a lot of stir around the world.

We shouldn’t treat J K Rowling like a maiden aunt

Lorna Bradbury, who writes a children’s column for The Telegraph, asks: why are people so upset about the fact that J K has turned to these dark themes?

But in case anyone needs reminding, this book is not aimed at children. The Casual Vacancy clearly echoes many of the themes of Harry Potter; as Rowling has put it in interviews this week, as a writer she’s concerned with mortality and morality.

Bradbury adds that it’s “misogynistic” to see Rowling as some kind of aunt who ought to protect our children:

Why shouldn’t a children’s writer, even one as successful and as generation-defining as JK Rowling, be permitted to write for another audience? Roald Dahl’s zany children’s stories are celebrated, untainted by the suggestion that his much darker adult work will damage children’s health, should they get their hands on it.

Harry Potter is odd, writes Bradbury, because it follows a boy from childhood to adolescence – would you feel comfortable giving the seventh book to a seven year old? And will the Harry Potter generation find the same comfort in The Casual Vacancy?

It will also be interesting to see whether the bleakness of The Casual Vacancy will have an effect on the way we read the Harry Potter books. Will we fall slightly out of love with JK Rowling? Will the series come to seem so much darker viewed through the prism of its more angst-ridden cousin? Parents will certainly never feel quite so comfortable with Rowling again. But that in itself is not a good enough reason to dislike this novel that should be judged on its own terms.

What do you think?

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