The Harry Potter effect

The Harry Potter Effect

John Houghton
David C. Cook (Kingsway), 2007, £6.99, 126p., ISBN 9781842913628

There are two groups of people in this world – firstly those pro-Potter stating J.K. Rowling’s series is the best thing since sliced bread and has done wonders for reading amongst children. These tend to ignore other well-loved children’s writers such as Blume, Wilson, Pullman, Snicket, etc. The second group tend to be polar opposites. Potter is evil, of the Devil, and will encourage young people to dabble in the black arts.

This book was refreshing in that it took neither view. Instead this slim volume looks at a single issue in each chapter trying to put that issue within a context that allows you to determine on the evidence what the series is really about. There are times when plot details are given away, so beware if you’ve not read the books, but on the whole the format works well. I have reservations about the style, as there were times when I found it not an engaging read, however on the whole there are more positives than negatives about the text especially for those asked to write an essay.

One theme covered was the use of witches. I was intrigued to see that he focused far more on witches than wizards in both his examples of other texts and his dialogue about this series. I was left wondering if there was actually a feminist debate to be had.

Overall it is a book for dipping into.

Contributed by: Winette E. Field, BA, MCLIP, who is Librarian of the William Booth College and is a former CLIS committee member.