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Friday, November 9, 2007

Scholastic Books responds to questions about The Golden Compass

Here is a response from Kyle Good, Vice President of Corporate Communications - Scholastic Books. The gentleman who emailed Mr. Good, is a devout Catholic who has read not one, but all three of the Philip Pullman books, the trilogy His Dark Materials. This seems to fly in the face of the assertion by Mr. Good that most of the trilogy's detractors have never even read the books.

Interestingly enough, the "Catholic" supporters that Mr. Good cites, are not known to most Catholics, and certainly are not espousing what most would consider an orthodox view regarding the anti-Catholic/anti-God elements contained within these books.

Ultimately, it comes to this: The Golden Compass equals big bucks. Scholastic will rake in the cash, should the New Line Cinema production fare as well as The Lord Of The Rings trilogy or The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

Here is Mr. Good's email:

Subject: The Golden Compass

Your email regarding The Golden Compass was forwarded to me, and I
appreciate the opportunity to offer a thoughtful, if somewhat lengthy,
response to your concerns.

The Golden Compass is a fantasy adventure set in an alternate world
about a brave and resourceful young girl who sets out to rescue her
best friend and winds up on an extraordinary quest. It celebrates
freedom, love, courage and responsibility. The upcoming film from New
Line Cinema is based on the first book in an award-willing trilogy by
Philip Pullman. Scholastic Media and Depth of Field are also
producers of the film.

The books, published in the U.S. by Random House, have received
numerous awards and honors, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian
Fiction Prize, designation as an ALA Notable Book, ALA top Ten Best
Books for Young Adults, Horn Book Fanfare Honor Book, Publishers
Weekly Best Book of the Year, Texas Lonestar Reading List winner, and
Main Student Book Award among many others. They have earned
widespread critical acclaim including praise from the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and the following reviews:

"Powerful… a fantasy adventure that sparkles with childlike wonder."
—The Boston Sunday Globe

"Masterful storytelling… with a cast of instantly beguiling characters."
—The Dallas Morning News

"Extraordinary storytelling at its very best."
—The Detroit Free Press

"This is a captivating fantasy, filled with excitement, suspense, and
unusual characters."
—School Library Journal

There has been discussion swirling on the Internet and in the media
that is confusing and contradictory, even though the writers and
outspoken critics have yet to see the film which they are critiquing.
Many of those commenting admit that they have never read Mr. Pullman's

Literary debate and analysis of the meaning of the Pullman trilogy,
His Dark Materials, like many other great works of fiction, has gone
on since the books were first published more than ten years ago. That
discussion frequently takes place in elementary through college
classrooms worldwide.

Take, for example, this comment from Father P.S. Naumann, S.J., a
lifelong educator from upstate New York, whom we asked for his
perspective on The Golden Compass. He wrote, "Teaching English for
thirty odd years in a Jesuit high school, I kept looking for a
contemporary novel that could, would, and should provoke questions and
discussions. Philip Pullman's book is an eye-opener and window-opener
that can bring kids, parents, and teachers together to talk. The
windows in our own minds, and in our own Church, open onto a secular
society and a multi-cultural world, as Pope John XXIII knew. How to
deal with that? Sooner or later students will open windows for
themselves; it's part of growing up. If they don't ask any questions
in the process, we may have lost our opportunity. The Golden Compass
will help in that direction, and if the book brings kids and parents
together to discuss important ideas, think of the good it's doing."
Also consider the writing of Donna Freitas, Ph.D. from Catholic
University, and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Boston
University. Dr. Freitas is a Catholic who rejects the allegation that
Pullman's work is anti-Christian as she writes in the book she
co-authored with Jason King, Assistant Professor of Theology at St.
Vincent College, Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman's Spiritual
Imagination in His Dark Materials: "Pullman, despite his personal
professions of atheism, has, indeed, created within His Dark Materials
a universe replete with the divine."—pg. 34.

Philip believes in open, honest free speech and he decries corruption
and abuse of authority. He promotes love, kindness, loyalty, and
courage. He is also a master storyteller who artfully weaves these
themes into brilliant fantasy stories, and he encourages an open,
honest dialogue about his work. As Freitas and King explain, "Pullman
cares supremely about the power of the human imagination and the role
that freedom of interpretation plays in shaping it."—pg. xviii.

At Scholastic, we offer a wide range of books and materials in our
Book Fairs and Book Clubs in order to serve the diverse communities
across the nation. We recognize that not every book is for every
young person, and we always encourage parents and caretakers to take
an active interest in their children's reading choices to help
children select the materials that are right for their family and
community values as well as their age and reading level. We also
encourage families to help their children interpret whether what they
see and read in the media and on the Internet is honest, factual and
unbiased and to consider alternate views in pursuit of the truth.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me.


Kyle Good

Vice President, Corporate Communications

Kyle Good
V.P. Corporate Communications
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012
fax: 212-343-6930

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