Leading Article: Bewitched

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The Independent Culture
HARRY POTTER is a hero for Everyman. Teachers, children and parents alike have melted before the all-conquering power of the hero of Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches, a source of addictive delight for millions, full of reassurance and rebellion in equal measure. JK Rowling has created a fictional character who seems certain to flourish well into the 21st century.

It is fitting that Harry and his quidditch-playing friends should now be considered not just the province of young readers. The latest in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is on the shortlist for the Whitbread Children's Award. The rules have been modified so that Harry can win the adult Whitbread, too.

Admittedly, Joanne Rowling scarcely needs any more prizes. None the less, the explicit overlap between appreciation of children's and adult's literature is to be welcomed; it is the opposite of dumbing down. A work that is compelling for children stands comparison with literary heavyweights. As the broomstick-riding players of quidditch would say: it's a golden snitch.