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>Excuse My Dust

>A Horn Book interview with Philip Pullman is forthcoming on our website later this week; Philip and I spent a few minutes on Friday discussing the upcoming Golden Compass movie and the peculiar Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, whose job I totally want: the man makes more than 300,000 smackers a year interviewing himself for press releases.

In preparation for the interview I reread The Golden Compass, something I hadn’t done since reviewing it for BCCB way back when. In all the subsequent debate re the trilogy’s weighty themes and dizzying ideas, I had forgotten just how action-packed this book was, complete with cliff-hanging chapter endings. It has completely propelled me into The Subtle Knife, which I’m re-reading via audiobook, an excellently addictive production (despite some cheesy musical interludes) narrated by Pullman himself with full-cast dialogue seamlessly worked in.

Now is this work-reading or pleasure-reading? Virginia Heffernan wonders why we draw a distinction.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Yes, yes, but when will Fanfare be posted to the website.

  2. >Ooh, I can’t wait for the interview! Lucky you! Yes, the audiobook versions of all three are wonderful. and the farther you go into HDM the deeper it gets, metaphysically. My 11-year old grandson, who has grown up with the audiobooks and now reads the books to himself is having a bit of a hard time with TAS. But The Golden Compass is very action-packed and easier to follow, and the movie will bring millions more to the books, hooray!!

  3. >Now, I am jealous! I have been toting The Golden Compass around and leaving it at bedside for the last month but… all this “work reading” for Notables interferes and prevents me from re-reading the whole book, which many of my students are doing right now. So, I steal a couple of minutes here and a little stretch of time there to re-read just parts of the book and revel in how each sentence is so well constructed and how each character is so alive and layered and how much imagining takes place from page to page. *sigh*

  4. Matthew Peterson says:

    >My editor for my upcoming book, Paraworld Zero, suggested I read The Golden Compass because she felt it was similar to my book. I ended up reading the whole trilogy. Very interesting books. I liked the first one the best, while the others went down tangents I wasn’t as excited about. The movie looks very promising.

  5. >If somebody paid me $300,000 smackers to leg-wrestle Bill Donohue, I would totally do it.

    My kid goes to a Lutheran school (long story), and we’ve already gotten a concerned email from her teacher warning all first-grade parents about this movie. She sent us to this link —

    Also, we’ve had letters to the editor printed in the newspaper saying that Pullman’s out to whack us with the athiest stick.

    So it’s been pretty interesting around these parts.

    Can’t wait to see that interview, though!

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >Yes, the Snopes comment has been controversial, because the urban-legend site is generally seen as siding with the Forces for Good, and, with their affirmative verification of the claim that “The 2007 film The Golden Compass is based on a series of books with anti-religious themes,” they’re being accused of carrying water for the religious right. But I think you have to twist yourself into all kind of knots not to acknowledge the validity of the claim.

  7. >I’m not even trying to go against the claim that it’s an anti-religious book/movie. I mean, you kill God (and technically they didn’t MEAN to … who knew God would disintegrate!) and the religious right paints “Condemned to Hell!” across your front door.

    Too bad they didn’t read it first. Though I understand Donohue actually read it and grudgingly admits that the book is well-written. But he still says it’s evilocity at work.

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