There was a while when people kept telling me, you must read this wonderful book about a school for wizards, it's so original, there's never been anything like it!Leguin goes on to praise Harry but to also show that it is a pretty typical book in the tradition of the school story in fantasy. She's appalled that people who read for a living, who should know better, being completely in the dark about fantasy literature. She criticizes the critics and university English departments that have marginalized a swath of literature that people love, that people relate to from childhood through adulthood, and that they dismiss it out of hand. Wonderful.
The first time this happened, I confess I though they were telling em to read my own A Wizard of Earthsea, which involves a school for wizards, and has been in print since 1969. No such luck! I had to hear all about Harry, and it was hard, at first. I felt ignoble envy. But I soon felt a growing and less ignoble astonishment. Reviewers and critics were talking about Rowling's book as if it were a unique, unprecedented phenomenon.
Also quite good is the longest essay "Cheek by Jowl: Animals in Children's Literature" and "Why Kids Want Fantasy, or, Be Careful What You Eat" the end of which sounds a bit like Neil Gaiman's "Instructions". A 6 from me; it's all good.
And the bibliography! If women still did such a thing, I would swoon over it! The fiction! the non-fiction! I could spend a year just reading the books on it.
so now i've added A Wizard of Earthsea to my library hold list too. B was Shocked, Shocked! to know I had not read it.