When faced with the phrase “Children’s Literature,” I think of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Roald Dahl. All of which, I think cannot be argued against as classics from the literary genre. It is true that Children’s literature has not been given as much establishment as that for adults, but I fail to see why all of a sudden the respected classics in this genre have been forgotten about. Obviously J.K. Rowling caused an entire phenomenon with her Harry Potter series and it gave the genre the ability to come back fighting for recognition, but truly great children’s novels have always been there in order for a genre to exist for Rowling to reshape and rebuild. I love Rowling and her Potter series, but her predecessors defined the genre and credit cannot be misled.
Publishers scrambled to recreate the “Harry Potter effect”. The children’s market, previously considered marginal, was suddenly taken seriously. “It was the equivalent of The Beatles in children’s publishing,” says children’s author Julie Bertagna. “Children’s fiction was a stagnant backwater which nobody really took very seriously at all. There’s been a revolution which is mostly due to Harry Potter.”
In turn, “publishers would have been fools not to tap into the feeding frenzy trend effect,” says Tony Mulliken, chairman of Midas PR whose clients include the National Trust and Private Eye. And so the Potter phenomenon, coupled with the success of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, led to a glut of six-figure deals for fantasy franchises.
Having said that, from the following article, it appears that publishers only decided to take a serious interest in the genre after the Potter phenomenon, due to the monetary value. Obviously this is their job, and a profit will always be desired, but Harry Potter was, as stated, a phenomenon! Trying to recreate that is pointless and quite frankly has lead to many amateur children’s fantasy authors believing they will have great success with their work, which has been published simply due to the genre. I have read quite a few of the post-Potter fantasy children’s books, and the comparison to the great classics by the above mentioned are very, very, different; and in my eyes, not necessarily in a good light. Credit where it is due, this new reform to the genre has produced some amazing work too, such as Collin’s The Hunger Games and Paolini’s Eragon series, but I can’t bring myself to suddenly disregard the equally wonderful novels such as Tolkien’s The Hobbit, especially when it appears a lot of the new fantasy novels are being published based on the idea and sudden popularity of fantasy itself.