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Customer Review

32 of 277 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars warning for discerning parents, 24 July 2008
This review is from: The Firework Maker's Daughter (Paperback)
I bought this Pullman book thinking it might be suitable for my 10 yr old daughter. She is doing a project on China so I thought it might bring in an interesting aspect on Chinese culture, as the main character is a Chinese girl called Lila.- Not only did the prose not live up to it's review status, I was shocked to discover that the imagery and moral values are totally unsuitable for young children.(The book has been recommended for 8 year olds and up).
Pullman's main push in his book seemed to be to subtly yet profoundly introduce the philosophies of atheism and humanism - with no hint of this on the cover.
My main concerns as a parent are;
1) The book undermines a child's confidence in his parents;"Didn't your father tell you..." Razvani the 'chief Fire Demon' questions Lila.
2)States that all you need in life are your own abilities and "simple luck" thus denying a need for God.
3)The personalities of Satan, demons, the departed spirits of people,and the fickle 'river goddess' are made into figures of ridicule suggesting that all things supernatural are to be cast aside as some kind of joke. Lila is able to create her own 'fire demon' out of sulphur using her own imagination before he also melts away, saying "..everything was worth it for a moment of joy like this".( The illustration shows a scary picture of what looks like Satan amidst flames).
4)Quote: "The world itself is an illusion. Everything that exists flickers like a flame for a moment, and then vanishes. The only thing that lasts is change itself". This statement tells the reader not to believe in eternity but look only to evolutionary change and then death. It undermines faith and hope in such a subtly deceiving way I thought it was my duty to warn similarly concerned parents.
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Showing 1-10 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Jul 2008 01:16:14 BDT
MartK says:
Would you be so concerned with a book that actively promoted a belief in God? In this day and age surely children should be allowed the right to grow up without having a particular Faith almost forced upon them. In your world your 10 year old daughter is not allowed to read anything that would go against YOUR personal belief? I think it is selfish and niave to take the view you have taken and, as a primary teacher of 9-10 year old children, would hope that most parents allow their children to grow up and make their own informed decision based on a range of information and experiences. You say that the 'moral values are totally unsuitable for young children' - what you actually mean is that the moral values are totally against your own beliefs. This doesnt mean it is unsuitable for all young children! Rant over :o)

Posted on 9 Aug 2008 23:14:28 BDT
Joe says:
You bought a Pullman FICTION book for your daughter's project on China for "interesting aspect on Chinese culture" !!!! Well that says it all, a FICTION for goodness sake !!! With such narrow mindness... how on earth is your daughter going to learn any aspect of "Chinese culture" !

Posted on 21 Aug 2008 22:14:03 BDT
This review tells us more about the person who wrote it than about the book. If his daughter is exposed to his version of reality based on unlikely beliefs, why should she not get a chance to consider another view? Philip Pullman's views are surely well enough known. Another way describing this father's attitude is 'over-protective censorship'. She can decide for herself!

Posted on 28 Sep 2008 15:27:59 BDT
missmac says:
How very sad that a little girl can't learn something about life and the world from anyone but her parents. I sense a teenage rebellion on the horizon!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Oct 2008 12:10:54 BDT
A. Scott says:
Might I suggest books about Chinese culture for your daughter? Or Chinese stories written by Chinese authors and then translated?

As for the quote: "The world itself is an illusion. Everything that exists flickers like a flame for a moment, and then vanishes. The only thing that lasts is change itself" I couldn't have put it better myself: that is what life is like. Everything is temporary, including being a child. I would have thought a child on the cusp of adolescense would need gems of wisdom such as this.

Posted on 3 Nov 2008 13:54:40 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Nov 2008 15:05:29 GMT
Smarties says:
I'm not sure if 'Reflections' has ever heard of Roald Dahl, but if their child has any of his books, or Enid Blyton's for that matter, then they had better remove them quickly from their child's library if they are concerned about upsetting their child's confidence in their parents and adults in general. In fact, they may wish to remove the bulk of all children's literature from the presence of their child, as the majority of fiction aimed at younger readers generally portrays parents, teachers, or any sort of adult as being even more mistaken in matters than children. And why not? It was, after all, adults who voted in Mr Bush.

Secondly, just because the beliefs that permeate Pullman's text are not in line with their own, I think it's horrifying that they cannot 'expose' their child to other ways of thinking-can there be any surer road to bigotry and small-mindedness than banning other beliefs and thought processes?

Thirdly, I'm not sure why 'Reflections' thought that buying a Philip Pullman book was a good idea if they and their children are God-fearing. After all, he did write arguably one of the most famous childrens trilogies of the past 50 years-a collection which is so underpinned with atheist thought that Catholic protestors still appear at Pullman's book-signings, lectures etc. 13 years after its first publication. Add this to the fact that Pullman is a known aethiest and a public fan of Richard Dawkins (if you read the back of Dawkins' 'The God Delusion' you'll see some of Pullman's overt thoughts on God...) and I'm astounded that the book surprised them in its content.

I'm not convinced that 'Reflections' has fully researched the material they wish their offspring to read. Odd, when apparently a work of fiction can so overly worry them about the views their own child may grow up with.

Posted on 1 Dec 2008 22:25:56 GMT
I have bought this book for my 12 year old neice and to read to my 6 year old daughter based on this review. Thank you.

Posted on 2 Dec 2008 17:07:02 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 20 Jan 2009 10:49:05 GMT]

Posted on 5 Dec 2008 13:21:20 GMT
J. Hunter says:
I'm sold, I'll buy it for my nephew and my daughter! Religion has done little but divide in the grand scheme of things and the conception of spiritual things is the misappropriation of descriptive concepts into objective things and the projection of human decisions - good and bad - concepts that are entirely human. It's time for us to take control and responsibility for our actions. Thanks for helping me with my decision!

Posted on 21 Jan 2009 12:15:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 21 Jan 2009 12:18:19 GMT
Although I do believe in God, its only a book! Why does everyone think that just because they read a story about atheism, that they'll turn atheist? I'm sure your daughter will realise (if not now, but in time) that this is a no more than a story, like the Harry Potter's are just fiction. Its a book. Its not real. Just because they do or don't like it doesn't mean they "believe" or "agree" with the themes of the book.
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