The Golden Compass

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Banned Books 2019 – FEBRUARY READ – Northern Lights/The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) – Philip Pullman

Published February 25, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

“Without this child, we shall all die.”

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the second banned book in our series for 2019! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

MARCH: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding– Sarah S. Brannen

APRIL: We All Fall Down- Robert Cormier

MAY: Crazy Lady– Jane Leslie Conley

JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture– Michael A. Bellesiles

JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak

AUGUST: Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

Northern Lights/The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) – Philip Pullman

First published: 1995

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)

Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  Of course not. I’m one of those people who never experienced reading the His Dark Materials series as a child so I only came to it with an adult mentality. Either way, I think I would have had the same opinion. There is no reason on earth why this book should be challenged or banned, ESPECIALLY for the reasons mentioned. As always, I tried to guess the reasons why this book, the first in the series, might have been difficult for some people to stomach and once again, I was completely wrong. I assumed that the fantasy/magical aspect might have offended a few people (even though children clearly love a good, imaginative narrative that doesn’t necessary have to be believable!).

CHRISSI:  I have to say no. It’s a load of poppycock. I have no idea why this book was challenged. Like Beth, I thought it might be about the fantasy elements, I know some of the parents of children at my school don’t like fantasy because of religious reasons and I wondered whether that could be it. No. Political viewpoint? Religious viewpoint? This confuses me.

How about now?

BETH: Northern Lights was challenged over ten years after it was published and to be honest, I’m struggling to see why if there were challenges from concerned readers, they didn’t appear prior to 2008? If anyone has any ideas, please do enlighten me! Additionally, it really does irritate me when the reasons for challenging a book point towards a political or religious viewpoint. Now, I’m not a particularly political or religious individual BUT I do like to learn about different attitudes/cultures and viewpoints and I very much enjoy it when there’s a difference of opinion to my own in a novel, unless I feel like I’m being preached to. Saying that however, I really didn’t think there was a strong viewpoint either political or religious in Northern Lights and I’m a bit confused as to where this reasoning has come from?

CHRISSI: I am utterly confused by the reasons for challenging this book. I didn’t think it had a particularly strong political or religious viewpoint. Even if it did, why does it matter? Why should it be banned? Shouldn’t we be allowed to make our own minds up? Shouldn’t we open our minds a little to other’s views?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really love His Dark Materials as a series but particularly this first novel, Northern Lights. Lyra is a wonderfully rich character who never fails to make me laugh, the world-building is imaginative and thought-provoking and I adored the adventure aspect of the entire novel. Plus, I absolutely love the idea of having a daemon companion as a unique part of your personality. I’d love to know what yours would be in the comment below if you’ve read this book? Mine would be a ring-tailed lemur!

CHRISSI: Ooh. This is a toughie. Whilst I appreciate that Philip Pullman is a talented writer and that this story is fabulously creative… there’s something about it that I don’t connect with. I have a disconnect with it and I can’t tell why. I usually like fantasy/magical reads but this one leaves me quite cold. I know I am in the minority with that. I certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it! Oh and my daemon would definitely be a lop-eared rabbit.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN MARCH ON BANNED BOOKS: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen.

 

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Banned Books – The Titles For 2019 Revealed!

Published January 1, 2019 by bibliobeth

I’m delighted to say my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and I will be continuing our Banned Books challenge into 2019. Here is what we’ll be reading each month:

JANUARY: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread– Chuck Palahniuk

FEBRUARY: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass– Philip Pullman

MARCH: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding– Sarah S. Brannen

APRIL: We All Fall Down- Robert Cormier

MAY: Crazy Lady– Jane Leslie Conley

JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture– Michael A. Bellesiles

JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak

AUGUST: Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

As always, we’ll be talking about each book on the last Monday of every month so if you’d like to join in, you’re more than welcome! Happy New Year everyone!

 

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2013 – The Round-Up

Published January 6, 2014 by bibliobeth

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2013 is over, and so is our Kid-Lit challenge but I think I can speak for us both when I say we both really enjoyed it. Here are the twelve books we read with the links to my reviews! Please check out Chrissi’s blog HERE for her fabulous reviews.

JANUARY – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

FEBRUARY – The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

MARCH – The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

APRIL – Stig of the Dump by Clive King

MAY – Heidi by Johanna Spyri

JUNE – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

JULY – Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

AUGUST – The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

SEPTEMBER – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

OCTOBER – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

NOVEMBER – Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

DECEMBER – The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our first year blogging in Kid-Lit.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2013 and why?
BETH: This is tough, there were quite a few that I really enjoyed. I think it would have to be A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, simply because I had forgotten how beautiful the story was.
CHRISSI: This is a tough question. I’m torn between two that I thoroughly enjoyed. They are The Railway Children and A Little Princess. I think I’d have to go for A Little Princess, because it just gave me such a lovely warm feeling when I read it. The writing is beautiful.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2013 and why?
BETH: There were a couple that also fitted this category! Probably The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley as I found it quite odd, and was bitterly disappointed by the story in general.
CHRISSI: We seem to have similar answers Beth! Mine would be Children Of The New Forest though. I was disappointed with it. I really thought I’d enjoy it! The Water Babies was an odd read.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book that surprised you the most?
BETH: This has to be Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I loved the imagination behind this story, and some of his ideas (like having your own personal daemon) just blew me away. That reminds me, I must put the second book on my Coming Up list soon!
CHRISSI: I was surprised at how long Oliver Twist was. I think I’m so used to the film which condensed the book quite a bit.
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2013?
BETH: I have! After The Little Princess, I decided to look into what else Frances Hodgson Burnett has written, as I know only of this book. I then went on a trip to Persephone Books in London, and found a copy of her novel The Making of A Marchioness, which I am looking forward to getting round to at some point!
CHRISSI: I want to read more of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Other than that I don’t think I’d read books from the same authors, besides Dickens, who I will hopefully read more of on the future. It has made me want to continue this challenge, and also think about other features around children’s literature!
Coming soon…. (Thursday to be exact) Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – The Twelve Titles for 2014!

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – NOVEMBER READ – Northern Nights/The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman

Published November 30, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however,nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

What did I think?:

This book was my choice for the November read of the Kid-Lit Challenge that I participate in with my sister and firstly, I cannot believe I haven’t read any Philip Pullman before. Having heard a lot about the Dark Materials series, I was eager to include it in the challenge (any excuse for a return to childhood…) and am so glad I did. Our heroine is a young girl called Lyra Belacqua who lives amongst the scholars in Jordan College, but enjoys a happy and free existence amongst the street children of the town who become her playmates. Things become slightly more sinister for Lyra however, when her uncle (Lord Asriel) pays a visit. Lyra hides in a wardrobe and happens to witness one of the scholars attempting to poison him. Then she hears her uncle give a lecture to the scholars which both terrifies and intrigues her. Something about “dust” and the separation of children from their daemon counterparts makes her blood run cold, and starts an exciting and dangerous journey for Lyra and her faithful daemon Pantalaimon which involves kidnapped children, travelling gypsies, armoured polar bears and flying witches.

There are so many different layers to this story that at times it seems hard to keep up and in this way, may not be suitable for very young readers although I wouldn’t like to under-estimate them! One of my favourite parts of the story was the idea of each person having a daemon which is able to shift to differing animals during childhood depending on the situation and the mood the child is experiencing. For example, Lyra’s daemon shifts from a moth or a mouse when he needs to hide or assess a situation, to a bird or a panther for protection. Around the time of puberty, the daemon will choose one form and stick to it for the rest of the child’s life which may be based on the child’s own personality. The daemon is also so intimately connected with the child that they will both feel the other’s pain, or any other emotional sensations. I challenge anyone to read this book and not wonder what their own particular daemon would be? For me, I’m thinking ring-tailed lemur or emperor tamarin monkey but anyway…

As for the characters, I think they’re amongst the most wonderful ever written in literature. A strong statement I know, but I love the gutsy, honest and open Lyra, who is clearly a role model for children everywhere, the evil persuasiveness of Mrs Coulter, the fighting spirit and loyalty of the armoured bear Iorek Byrnison and the vivid imagery behind the author’s animal daemons. The story itself is very convoluted as mentioned before, but filled with excitement and drama that had me racing towards the end and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. I can’t wait now to read the second in the series – The Subtle Knive, and am intrigued to watch the film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, to see how good a job they made of it.

Please see my sister Chrissi’s fabulous post HERE for her views on this book.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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