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I got around to reading "Children's Bookshelf" from last week and found
this article about Philip Pullman and his work.  I know we have had a
lot of comments here about "His Dark Materials" but I thought Pullman's
comments were very telling and wanted to share them with any of you who
may not see this column.  Here are two excerpts of that column by Diane

Diane Roback, Children's Bookshelf -- Publishers Weekly, 11/1/2007

1.       In teaching, he said, he learned how to become a storyteller,
beginning with telling stories to his classes, such as ancient myths,
and The Iliad and The Odyssey. "I learned what sort of storyteller I was
and wasn't," he said. "I couldn't make them laugh, but I could describe
a scene, build up suspense. That was my apprenticeship as a

He wrote many novels before turning to what became The Golden Compass,
the first of the His Dark Materials books, a series that took seven
years to complete. After attempting the first chapter "14 or 15 times,"
Pullman said, "I found myself writing the words 'Lyra and her daemon.'
It became clear that she had a daemon and went everywhere with it. The
best idea I had was that it's only children's daemons that change forms,
and then [when the child gets older] they settle down. That's the real
theme of the story: the difference between innocence and experience, in
William Blake's terms."

2.      Pullman stated that he doesn't write with any political or
religious aim in mind; he writes to tell a story. "Religion is part of
what makes us what we are," he said, "by which I mean, a sense of
wonder, mystery and awe. A questioning attitude-where do we go when we
die? Religion is at its best when it is at its farthest from organized
power. When religion acquires political power it goes bad."

Much of the "fuss" about the books, he said, "comes from those who have
not read them. Also those who read books in one way-literally. I much
prefer the democracy of reading. I would much rather my readers come to
my books with an open heart and mind. The space that opens up between
the reader's mind and the book is a private space. It's an extraordinary
process, this process of reading. I am very much against anyone
dictating how my books should be read."


If you would like to see the whole thing, here is a link:


Elizabeth Varley, Librarian

Wilmington Montessori School

Infant/Toddler through Sixth Grade <> <> 

1400 Harvey Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19810


"Establishing a lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can
do is keep us out of war."  

     -Maria Montessori


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