MUGGLES FOR HARRY POTTER!
Letters from muggles of all stripes–parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors, librarians, readers old and young–were unanimous in decrying Lakshmi Chaudhry’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Epic” [Aug. 13/20], her review of the final book of the series. Letters featured such terms as “humorless,” “sanctimonious,” “asinine,” “off the mark,” “nonsense,” “half-baked” and “a review that might have appeared in The Weekly Standard.” A reader opined that Chaudhry had “splattered herself with her own ink. Perhaps the quill she used came from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.” No letters were delivered by owl. –The Editors
I was taken aback by Lakshmi Chaudhry’s venomous attack on the Harry Potter saga. Looking behind the cheap point-scoring, I find it hard to see what her problem with the book really is. On the one hand she criticizes Voldemort for being a cardboard villain but then has a go at Harry for not being a cardboard hero and at the series for not having a cardboard and crystal-clear moral. I suspect–based on her pulling Bush into the last sentence–that the real problem is that J.K. Rowling didn’t use the final battle to mirror the great battle in American politics. Perhaps she’d have liked to see Harry lead the charge to impeach Voldemort?
Is Lakshmi Chaudhry really Rita Skeeter in disguise, and is this really the Daily Prophet? That could explain why you failed to pick a reviewer with no ax to grind to critique the Harry Potter books. You could have chosen a high school or college student or even me, a grandmother who’s a retired librarian, editor and writer with two degrees behind my name, and who has read all the books seven times. We could all tell you that Chaudhry/Skeeter missed the major points of the epic. First and foremost–it’s a great story! The imaginative weaving of several plots, the character development and the creation of another world all draw the reader into caring participation with the characters. Good conquers evil! All classes of creatures care! And yes–love and unselfishness are important. Got a problem with that, Skeeter?
ANNE MORROW DONLEY
Lakshmi Chaudhry’s critique was shortsighted. The books are written to appeal to young readers, and Rowling has hit that mark dead-on. If Chaudhry doesn’t know that adolescents are preoccupied with themselves and where they fall into the scheme of things, she is, well, preoccupied with being an adult. Most children don’t know anything about Hitler or World War II. Rowling brings a taste of the “real world” into a story that children can and want to relate to. It is a beginning. I feel the books do much good in giving kids an idea of the horrors that lurk “out there” without destroying hope that sacrifice and perseverance can win in the end.