“Mostly, however, readers – and especially younger readers – wanted to know about the minutiae of how the fiction was stitched together. The children who asked questions or made comments almost all homed in on exact points of detail.” (From John Mullan’s “Material Worlds.”)

Educational philosopher Kieran Egan notes that collecting is particularly pronounced from ages 8 to 15. We think often of collections in terms of things — stuffed animals, plastic dinosaurs, every single Warrior book; but kids also collect information. Whether it is everything about the Yankees or Harry Potter, if it is something they adore they want to know it all. This helps explain, I think, why some are so attentive to details in beloved books. In the case of Harry Potter or His Dark Materials, those that are besotted with the worlds of those books want to know everything about them and so they collect every bit of information they can find about those worlds. John Mullan’s report on readers’ questions at a recent Guardian book club event with Philip Pullman is a great example of this.


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One response to “Detailspotting

  1. That’s so true! There are a number of Warriors fans on my message boards, and I’m always amazed that they know the names, physical characteristics, history, and genealogy of every cat in every book, including minor characters that appear only once or twice. I never thought of it as related to collecting, but I can see how that applies.


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