Readers respond to Charles Taylor's "Kids Lit Grows Up."

By Salon Staff

Published September 27, 2002 7:00PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

Neil Gaiman has been writing since long before Rowling coughed up Harry Potter, and writing a hell of a lot better. Instead of jumping on the Harry Potter bandwagon, why not take a look at St.-Exupéry or Roald Dahl? Or take a look at the adventures of a young British schoolboy mage named Timothy Hunter, created by Neil Gaiman in 1990. Not only did J.K. Rowling not invent the genre, her contributions are infinitesimal. Unless you consider Kids Meals and merchandise a valid measure of literary worth.

Next Salon will be telling me that Tolkien inspired the "Song of Roland," and that the Second World War was fought as tribute to Spielberg's filmmaking talents.

I expect better from Salon.

-- Ben Williamson

Just a note to say thanks for Charles Taylor's fine piece on children's books written by authors who normally write for adults. Thanks for allowing your reporter the time to do this story justice. And kudos, too, for your continuing coverage of children's literature! I'm a former L.A. Times staffer turned children's author, so I have appreciation for both sides.

-- Barb Odanaka

I enjoyed Charles Taylor's article on children's literature for adults but was disappointed to see him neglect the best recent example: Philip Pullman's "Northern Lights" [published in the United States as "The Golden Compass," the first book in the "Dark Materials" trilogy].

I feel that this award-winning book is equal in skill and superior in story to those of J.K. Rowling! Thanks, however, for the interesting article.

-- Allan Kreuiter

Loved Charles Taylor's piece on young adult and children's literature. But what about African-American writers in the genre? Brooklyn native and Paris lawyer Janet McDonald's books about teenage girls in public housing projects are superb. Her first, "Spellbound" (2001), won an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults award and the sequel, "Chill Wind," is getting rave reviews in Booklist and elsewhere. Come on, do you have to be a white boy on a broom or a white girl orphan to catch Salon's book reviewer's eye?

-- Gwen Wock

I completely agree with Charles Taylor's assessment that children's literature is not just for children anymore (nor has it ever been). I am 34 and an unrepentant reader of "children's literature." My girlfriend and I are often the only childless adults in theaters for the openings of such movies as "Ice Age."

I was quite pleased to see "Coraline" in the list of books discussed. Gaiman understands that writing for children does not mean sugarcoating life.

However, I was dismayed by the lack of inclusion of "Artemis Fowl," by Eoin Colfer. It was a national bestseller. It spoke to children as well as adults. It was a stylish thriller with a 13-year-old super-genius arch-criminal. In short, a fantastic read.

Please add that to any future listings of "children's literature" that Salon may produce.

-- Tim Anderson

I'm astonished (well, perhaps not) that Charles Taylor has apparently never heard of the U.K. author Terry Pratchett, OBE. Particularly as he has heard of Neil Gaiman, who was, with Mr. Pratchett, the coauthor of "Good Omens." Mr. Pratchett has been a prolific, bestselling author for many years now, with a worldwide following that includes everyone from preteens to middle-aged Ph.D.s. More to the point of the article, Mr. Pratchett has written several well-received books particularly for children, his latest being "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents," which won the Carnegie Medal last year.

Perhaps Mr. Taylor should get out more. Or read more. Or something.

-- Margaret Tarbet

Salon Staff

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