“Taking arms against Harry Potter, at this moment, is to emulate Hamlet taking arms against a sea of troubles. By opposing the sea, you won’t end it.” So wrote literary critic Harold Bloom in the Wall Street Journal seven years ago. This statement seems truer this weekend than ever before, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, hits store shelves at midnight, while Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tops the movie box-office charts.
But is the book any good? New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani praises the new book and the series as a whole: “Ms. Rowling has fitted together the jigsaw-puzzle pieces of this long undertaking with Dickensian ingenuity and ardor.” These words would not surprise Bloom, who predicted that “The New York Times—the official newspaper of our dominant counter-culture—will go on celebrating [Potter,] another confirmation of the dumbing-down it leads and exemplifies.”
A review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is unlikely in these pages, but that is not to say COMMENTARY does not acknowledge the critical importance of children’s literature. We only suggest that instead of allowing Harry Potter to be your child’s, or your own, weekend reading, choose a story for children of all ages: Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Three Stories for Children,” with illustrations by Maurice Sendak, which appeared in the July 1966 issue of COMMENTARY.