Sunday, January 9, 2011

Great Literary MacGuffins, Part Two: More Great Examples

What other titles out there capture the essence of the book with one powerful noun and a few adjectives? Let's see . . .One of the best Harry Potter books of the series, and it's not hard to see why. The Chamber of Secrets becomes the Literary MacGuffin as the Heir to Slytherin uses it to petrify Muggle-born students, a ghost and a cat. Harry, already suspected of being the Heir, investigates the real attacker's identity while fending off a house elf's attempts to "save his life." I love how the American cover illustrates the climatic scene, where Fawkes carries Harry, Ginny, Ron and Lockhart out of the Chamber, because it's vivid and colorful. Chamber of Secrets may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needed a happy cover.
Come to think of it, the best Harry Potter books have the best Literary MacGuffins in the title. Deathly Hallows didn't work for me because the search for Hallows fell back when Harry, Ron and Hermione had to search for Horcruxes, BUT Goblet of Fire remains my favorite book in the series, partly because the question "Who put Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire?" drives the book despite its many subplots. We learn in the end how the Goblet connects these subplots together, but I digress. Another great Literary MacGuffin for the charts...

Anyone who has not read this book or seen the movie with AnaSophia Rob and Josh Hutcherson needs to CHECK EITHER OUT IMMEDIATELY! Aside from being a beautifully written and bittersweet story, the title makes you wonder "What is Terabithia? What is the bridge there?" Terabithia, the fictional country that Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke create to deal with the real world's hassles like bullies and mean teachers. Leslie gets picked on because she doesn't have a TV, and Jesse has to hide his fantastic drawings from his frugal, practical family. Terabithia becomes prevalent throughout the book as Jesse and Leslie's fortress and becomes the climatic focus when tragedy hits home- a surprise that snaps you out of the fantasy this novel has created. But you get reeled back into the fantasy, fortunately, once Jesse figures out how to revive it. I know only one person who didn't cry when reading this, so be prepared with tissues when you start reading.

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