Spinning Off

Toys, Television, Tie-Ins, and Technology

Authored by: Margaret Mackey

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570


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When literature becomes marketable both for its stories and its adaptability across mediums and media, one outcome is certainly increased profits and motivation to secure readers’ interests and loyalty, as Joel Taxel describes in the preceding chapter. Another outcome, as Margaret Mackey argues, is expanded opportunities for retelling, reshaping, and revaluing a story’s original form, content, and audience. In a reach across disciplines, Mackey outlines the questions raised by the “slipperiness” of stories for authors, publishers, educators, and researchers, who all want to know how readers—especially the generation of children who know books as commodities—understand and engage with multiple story forms. While multinational and multimedia enterprises seek ever-narrower storylines for a predetermined market, readers, artists, and entrepreneurs are very busy making up their own spin-offs.

In the world of children’s literature, Harry Potter stands alone as a singular and astonishing exception to many generalizations. So, perhaps it is reading too much into a one-off phenomenon to be taken aback by a “Special Collector’s Issue” of the American publication, Entertainment Weekly, a magazine normally focused on Hollywood press releases and gossip. “Goodbye, Harry,” reads the headline of the issue of August 3, 2007, and a flash promises readers “36 pages of Pottermania!” The image shows a child with glasses and a scar, immersed in the pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Rowling, 2007).

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