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Every Child Imagines Orphanhood

The great success of Harry Potter I attribute, among other things, to the fact that this series goes back to the principles of children’s literature of an earlier era, portraying orphanhood—every child imagines this sometimes— adventure and a struggle with evil.

Here is a true story. About two years ago an Israeli child was kidnapped in Russia. In an effort to collect a ransom, the kidnappers shackled him in a dark pit, and after a few months cut off his finger and sent it to the boy’s father. The boy was freed in the end, in terrible condition, as would be expected. When asked in the hospital in Moscow, by the children of the Israeli consulate, what book to bring him to  read, he asked—to the surprise of those who don’t understand what children’s literature is to read something from the “Chills” series of Israeli thrillers. He was lucky there was no educator type in the area, and he held that “Chills” book in his bandaged hand all the way back on the flight to Israel.

Gail Hareven was born and lives in Jerusalem. She has written books for children and adults as well as plays. She writes on politics and feminism and is a columnist for Maariv and The Jerusalem Report.