Episode 23: The Best and Worst Harry Potter, guest starring Jessica Day George

This week we take on Harry Potter, looking at both the books and movies, trying to decide what is the best and what is the worst. Dan and Rob agree on the worst book–but that book is Jessica’s favorite! Curses!

We’re joined by Jessica Day George, author of seven middle grade and YA fantasy novels.


8 Responses to “Episode 23: The Best and Worst Harry Potter, guest starring Jessica Day George”

  1. Krista says:

    Great podcast! Makes me want to read the series again. I just have a thought to add. In discussing the resiliency of the series compared to Twilight and DaVinci Code, do you think it has something to do with the audience very much growing up with the books? My kids were 2nd and 4th grade when we started reading them aloud, and were reading them on their own as well as they came out. My youngest was a very squirmy toddler who wouldn’t stop climbing all over the couches as I read, and who, when he read book six at the age of 11, came to me with tears in his eyes because Dumbledore had died. Also, when we reached reading book 5, that is when I lost the kids’ attention. They weren’t angsty teens yet and they didn’t want to not like Harry, and we actually stopped reading aloud about 1/3 into that book, and they continued on their own when they were ready. I just think that because Rowling began writing to a MG audience, and the characters, the storylines, and the voice of the books “grew up” with that audience, there came with that a sort of built-in longevity. And that was brilliant. Just a thought.

  2. Rebecca says:

    So I should preface my comment by saying that I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan. No my walls aren’t covered with HP posters and my wardrobe doesn’t reflect my Pottermore house (Hufflepuff), but I love the books dearly. I was unfortunately extremely able to identify with Harry the rejected child and adored that the least loved became the triumphant hero. I have made friends all over the world because of our mutual love for the series–and in fact one friend who resides in the UK and I (living in the southern US) send each other packages of our native sweets to one another twice a year. So yeah, fan girl. *Ok done with long preface*

    1. You mentioned how the second book is the first book made over–I agree they are very similar. They are in fact formulaic. As is every single one of the others. I do not know if John Granger (author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures) was the first to postulate this, but I do know that it was in his book that I first came across the fact that Rowlings books are formulaic…and for a reason.

    Harry falls into the “Christ figure” archetype for the series. He is the “savior” of the wizarding world in each of the books and in the books he goes through a metaphorical baptism. Focusing only on the “death” (to self or previous ways) and “rise” (new life/new beginning), in book one he goes down through the trap door and down through the Devil’s Snare to end up in the hospital wing high above the fight for the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. In book two, again he goes down into the depths of Hogwarts to battle and then rises victor. In the third book it’s a little harder to realize when he does the downward journey until you remember the underground tunnel beneath the Whomping Willow that led to the Shrieking Shack–which he travels back through becoming Sirius’s token of truth. Also, you could consider the dementor scene down by the lake and it’s counterpart Harry and Hermione flying Buckbeak up to save Sirius. Book four I can’t remember Harry going subterranean (though he does go under water) features a grave yard where death is all around and come back as the witness. In the sixth, he and four others from the D.A. go under the streets of London and further into the Department of Mysteries. Again, rising to show the world proof that Voldemort had returned and the wizarding world’s time of peace was over. Now in the seventh book he forgoes the baptism and becomes an actual “Christ figure” for the people he loves. He goes to his death in the hopes of bringing their salvation. Absolutely formulaic and absolutely beautiful.

    Now in far shorter points I just wanted to go over a few other things from your discussion.

    2. The shack in the middle of the sea. In Pottermore JK Rowlking reveals why they chose that shack. “[Petunia] and Vernon share a confused idea that they will somehow be able to squash the magic out of Harry, and in an attempt to throw off the letters that arrive from Hogwarts on Harry’s eleventh birthday, she and Vernon fall back on the old superstition that witches cannot cross water. As she had frequently seen Lily jump streams and run across stepping stones in their childhood, she ought not to have been surprised when Hagrid had no difficulty making his way over the stormy sea to the hut on the rock.”

    3. Vampires. JK Rowling actually does mention vampires, but she doesn’t delve into them. The first mention is in a book title by Gilderoy Lockhart (Voyages with Vampires). Then again in book six during the Christmas party hosted by Professor Slughorn. The vampire had a very minor role and was called Sanguini. (Sanguis is the Latin word for blood. HP being the only time my 4 years of Latin has come in handy. Thanks, Dad.)

    4. Lastly, there was one other house elf mentioned in the series and her name was Hokey. :-)

    Sorry for the long post, but I felt inspired to reply. To show a little more of how much a fan girl I am, you can read some of my HP song parodies here: http://thesepagesarenotforyou.com/2011/08/17/the-super-cool-thing-i-did-today-harry-potter-themed/

  3. Rebecca says:

    Oops! I just realized I said book six when I meant five and then left out six altogether! In the sixth book he goes into the cave which is under the cliff and he is pulled under water by the inferi. He and Dumbledore rise..worse from the wear..with further proof to there being a way to defeat Voldemort (Satan/Sin personified).

    Now I’ll shut up! :-)

  4. Emily M says:

    I am in the middle of reading Book 6 to my daughter, and have read all the others to her; my husband read the entire series to our oldest son and is reading them to our younger son. Reading them aloud does make me more aware of the adverbs and other word choice issues. But it also makes me realize how great these books are. Rowling is, as you say, the real deal. Book 7 makes me cry in a different place every time I read it. She’s clever and tender and a joy to read. I love that my kids Harry Potter too; they deserve to have staying power.

  5. Hi there friends, nice article and good arguments commented here,
    I am actually enjoying by these.


  1. […] Jessica George on the Wells brothers’ Dare to Eat a Peach podcast. They discuss the best and worst of the Harry Potter books and movies. […]

  2. […] The Best and Worst Harry Potter – White Flannel Trousers Season 2 Episode 1 Posted on 11 March 2013 by Tom Dan and Rob have Jessica Day George on their podcast to talk about Harry Potter, you can check it out here. […]

Leave a Reply