Harry Potter on the outs

Huck Finn would be impressed.

Harry Potter, the young wizard-in-training of the wildly popular "Harry Potter" book series was rejected in Volume 1 by his distinctly unmagical and unimaginative human relatives. Happily, he found his way to wizard school - and into the hearts of millions of humans who have thrived on his magical adventures.

But now he's on the outs again, being banned - just like Mark Twain's homeless rebel.

It's a turn of events likely to guarantee the young boy a firm place in history - if his record-setting perches on The New York Times bestseller list haven't already accomplished that.

A group of South Carolina parents is concerned about "a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect, and sheer evil" in the series. They've asked the state and local boards of education to send Harry packing from their schools.

It's a concern many children in South Carolina (and Georgia and California)might not understand. The elements the parents single out are indeed present. But so are bravery and love, and the enduring power of good.

Banning all children's literature and entertainment that took a walk on the dark side would pretty much wipe out the genre. Generations of kids have negotiated witches in gingerbread houses, wolves in grandma's clothing, even Jedi run amok.

A chat with a teacher or a request for a well-timed study hall could work for parents who feel the books are strong fare. But don't remove for all educators a literary spot where grown-ups and kids, in a rare moment, have met and shared common ground.


(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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