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The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us About Moral Choices Paperback – September 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"...a passionate defense of the J.K. Rowling series...will give comfort to parents..." -- Teacher Magazine, November/December 2003

"...completely convincing case that [these] books present Harry as an appealing hero struggling with real, significant moral choices..." -- Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Spring-Summer 2004

"Fans of the series, or parents of fans, can find a great deal of insight in this book." -- State Journal Register, October 26, 2003

"Kern balances his scholarly allusions with easy-to-understand interpretations of the Potter books. . . . a pleasure to read." -- Charlotte Observer, November 4, 2003

"Parents and teachers will find [Kern's] book useful in discussing Rowling's popular novels with young people." -- Kliatt, November, 2003

"[This] analysis can help [parents] discuss the book's moral choices and themes with their children." -- Foreword

From the Publisher

This book is not authorized, prepared, approved, licensed, or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, or any other individual or entity associated with the Harry Potter books or movies. Harry Potter is a registered trademark of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591021332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591021339
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is the most carefully studied, in-depth look at Harry Potter that I've found. It not only discusses the books' morality, but relates it to Rowling's use of history, legend and myth. It is a must for Harry Potter fanatics, but if you haven't read them yet and still want to, save this one for last.
I would recommend it to anyone who prefers to read books with substance and without platitude. It's clear, concise style would make it a useful tool for any teacher whose students are reading the Harry Potter books. "The Wisdom of Harry Potter" has a wonderful way of showing how philosophy can be interwoven with literature.
Any parents who've had doubts about their children reading Harry Potter will find this an excellent resource. And I would go so far as to challenge any of those people who want to ban these books from their children's libraries to find fault with the logic of this book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George Buttner VINE VOICE on February 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Harry Potter" is a popular, but very controversial series. From accusations of encouraging witchcraft to complaints about the book's social themes, there has been much criticism of the series, despite its massive appeal. In "The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us about Moral Choices," Edmund M. Kern presents a defense against the criticisms and succeeds brilliantly. His defense is comphrensive, thoughtful, detailed and well-organized. He even goes further, providing background on the series and offering his own analysis of the books' themes. Although his references to the books occasionally contain small errors in detail, it is obvious that he has read them and it helps that he is also a parent. (Although he stresses that his book is not just for parents, but anyone who's interested in a thorough analysis of the series' themes.) He has also held discussions of the series on the radio.

Edmund M. Kern posits to great effect that the themes of the books are an example of modern-day Stoicism. He develops this theory nicely in the first three chapters, while also touching on other themes and other critical analysis of the books. The fourth and fifth chapters tackle both the religious and social criticisms of the books. Kern exposes many flaws in arguments against the series. uses examples from the books along with intelligent commentary to reassure those who don't know what to make of the idea that the series corrupts readers or demonizes them somehow.

Kern shows that imagination is the key to this series greatness. While it may not present a perfect society, it is very real in many ways, and readers can relate to it. I recommend this book for any "Harry Potter" fan interested in a well-written defense of the series.

I hope this book is someday updated, because right now, it has only a brief analysis of "Phoenix" and, of course, nothing on "Prince."
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Vicki on May 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Kern's easy-to-read, educated analysis allows us to relive the stories while seeing how they build confidence and self-understanding through Harry's choices, based on values rather than outside pressure. 50-some years old, left brained and typically interested in non-fiction, I started reading the Harry Potter books because I admired so that they made kids interested in reading. I believe reading is the key to a child's futures and I wanted to understand the motivation these books were giving young people. So far, I've loved 5 of the Potter books and the 6th one is on order. I also gave the Potter fever to my 74-year-old Dad and brother, a tough 34-year-old in prison who read and then passed them around to other inmates! He said, "Now I see why Mom loved to read." Then I found and read the Wisdom of Harry Potter by Edmund Kern, drawn by the great art on the cover, subtitle and Table of Contents - not to mention Kern's credentials and Introduction. The Wisdom of Harry Potter made me feel great for "choosing" to delve into Rowling's stories. Mr. Kern deserves 10 stars for sharing his brilliance so delightfully!
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