I is for Ibbotson and Irritating Arguments about Fantasy

Kevin Hawkes, who illustrated many
Ibbotson books.
Eva Ibbotson is a fun writer. She is also a helpful rebuttal to the argument that a famous author eliminates other authors' chances.

During the Harry Potter years, Ibbotson (and other children fantasy authors) received MORE notice, not less; in fact, in some cases--like with Ibbotson--their books were reprinted. The reason? Kids enthralled by Harry Potter went looking for more fantasy authors, especially in the lagging months between each of Rowlings' books (remember being a kid waiting for a holiday to arrive? that's how Potter fans felt!).

A variation on the "famous author eliminates others" argument is fairy tale aficionados who accuse Disney of corrupting the field. I find this argument bizarre in the extreme. I was brought up on Disney--and Perrault--and Lang--and Cricket magazine. (I wasn't brought up on Grimm, despite my mom receiving a Maurice Sendak-illustrated copy of Grimm volumes as a birthday present. I was prone to nightmares, and Grimm would not have helped. Occasionally, I would walk by the volumes--they stood on a desk in the living room--and experience a shiver down the spine. Scary books!! And that would be enough horror for that week.)

Scary books!!
The problem with the anti-Disney argument is that the arguers assume that without the presence of Disney, kids would be exposed to all the authors/collectors I referenced above. Which is utter nonsense.

It is possible that a kid without Disney would go searching for other fairy tales--but that same child is just as likely to do what I did. Similar to Harry Potter fans, I wasn't satisfied with a Disney movie (or record album) here and there. I wouldn't have been satisfied with Disney picture books either--any more than I was with Dr. Seuss. I went looking for more because one type of tale was never going to be enough.

I always rather liked Sleeping Beauty because the prince
had a job: he wasn't simply a prop like in Cinderella.
(Sidenote: Several years ago, I witnessed a mother in a library fiercely informing her child, "You can pick out only TWO books." My thought: "Ohmygosh, only TWO? It's child abuse!")

The truth is, without Disney, it is likely that some kids (and many parents) would never be exposed to fairy tales at all.

And that would be very, very, very sad.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

I was a Disney fan when I was really young, but I lost interest before I even reached puberty. I never particularly liked musicals. (I could sit through Wizard of Oz if I had too.) I did really like the cartoon Gargoyles which got me into mythology and Shakespeare. I also really like a lot what Pixar has done.

It was the Vertigo Comic book Fables that got me to read the original fairy tales as an adult.