Dr. Seuss versus Harry Potter?

Here’s another response to my question of:

Harry Potter books or Dr. Seuss books - which have had the most impact on kids’ reading?

I like the methodology of this response, weighing characters, plots and setting for each. Well, without further ado, here it is:

How can I begin to compare the works of Dr. Seuss and the Harry Potter series? These two things have both influenced my life and the lives of countless other children for many years. When I sat down to think about it, I realized that I would never come to a conclusive answer unless I weighed the merits of each one. So what follows is my vain attempt to categorize my favorite parts of each fiction and determine who is the winner.

CHARACTERS: Some of the most recognizable characters of the century were created by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch, the Lorax, the Cat in the Hat – they are all complex, interesting, humorous and most importantly, unique. Maybe there are a few features in each that is vaguely reminiscent of someone else, (for instance, the Grinch is a bit like Scrooge from A Christmas Carol) but overall, they hold their own against other great works of literature. On the other hand, as much as it pains me to say this, the characters of Harry Potter are not totally unique. They seem to have been plucked from the genre’s forerunners and warped to fit the storyline. For instance, anyone can see the similarities between Dumbledore and Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. I think in this skirmish, I’ll have to give the point Dr. Seuss.

PLOT: In this one, I don’t think it could go any other way than toward Harry Potter. Even some of literature’s greats can’t compete with that series for the unbelievable way that J.K. Rowling winds her story around. There are so many times throughout the story that the audience reads a seemingly innocuous paragraph – for example, in the 6th book, Harry walks past a girl who drops a jar, which later is revealed to be an extremely important part of the plot – and then upon a reread, realize that the entire book has been plotted in such a way that every detail is important. Dr. Seuss, despite all of his other great contributions to children’s books, wrote in a simpler manner for younger children and while that style works beautifully for his books, it can’t compete with the Harry Potter series.

SETTING: This has got to be the hardest part of the battle because both Dr. Seuss and Rowling are genius are crafting new worlds. Rowling weaves her magical world in and out of the “muggle” (or non- magic) world with such dexterity and brilliance that it is entirely possible to believe that her stories actually exist. When I went to London, I found myself looking around the corner for the Leaky Cauldron pub and imagining each castle to be Hogwarts. Dr. Seuss takes a more fantastical approach to the settings of his stories, even when they take place in our world. His imagination works overtime to take even the most mundane setting, like the kitchen in The Cat in the Hat, and turn it into a place where magic happens. He also creates beautiful atmospheres like the house of the intimidating Once-ler in The Lorax, which help to set the mood and tone for the entire book. Overall, I suppose, if I absolutely have to choose, I would give it to Dr. Seuss, because he created so many different worlds in his books and envisioned such awesome fantasies that have made me want to write my own stories.

Overall, that’s two to one for Dr. Seuss’s works, so he is the ultimate champion in this battle! I love both series dearly, but as for their overall contributions to children’s books, I think the right choice is Dr. Seuss.

Written by the Marketing Department for Los Angeles car accident lawyer, Paul E. Lee.

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