Recently, I read the children’s book The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. And like millions of others, I’ve been a big fan of the Harry Potter series since I was a kid. There are some similarities between Platform 13 and the first Harry Potter, some people have claimed that Rowling full-blown plagiarized Ibbotson’s book. Platform 13 was first published in 1994, while the first Harry Potter was first published in 1997. Well, I don’t think Rowling plagiarized, maybe slightly inspired by, but not full blown plagiarism. However, it is fun to compare the two books and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll look at both books strengths and weaknesses, in a one on one battle. The categories I chose to compare them on are: writing, creativity, world-building, action/journey and friendship/characters.
Writing: Ibbotson’s writing style is very childish , which is okay since it is a children’s book. However, I feel the writing won’t win over that many adult readers. Rowling’s writing is easily read by both adults and children. It’s simple, easy and fun but not too childish. So, I would have to give the writing category to Rowling. 1 for Rowling.
Creativity: Both of the books have some common children’s books tropes but still are creative in many ways. What I liked the most about Platform 13 was that there was so many good ideas there. One of the main characters, Odge Gribble, is a young hag. I thought that was such a great and unique idea for a character. In fact, I would have liked the book to be completely about Odge. There’s also a minor character named Doreen Trout, she’s an old woman/bodyguard that attacks with knitting needles. She’s considered one of the best. This is also a very awesome idea for a character and I wish the book had more of her. Overall, out of the two books I feel Platform 13 had the better ideas but didn’t use those ideas to their full potential. Still, I feel Ibbotson deserves the win in this category. 1 for Ibbotson.
World-Building: Both of these feature magical worlds that can be accessed via a platform. The problem I had with Platform 13 is we don’t actually spend a lot of time in the magical world. Instead we mainly follow a few magical beings through the real world as they try to complete their task. I didn’t like this. In Harry Potter, the readers get plenty of time in Hogwarts and the wizarding world. And Rowling’s world is much more vivid and well constructed. So Harry Potter wins this part (even when judging with just the first book), hands down. 1 to Rowling.
Action/Journey: Again, Platform 13’s characters spend too much time in the real world. It was getting old after awhile. Harry Potter kept me interested the whole time and built up the action appropriately. This was easy to chose. 1 to Rowling.
Characters/Friendship: The only character that I found interesting in Platform 13 was Odge and Doreen. Ben was okay, he’s the quintessential boy in a children’s book – selfless, humble and sweet. You see him a lot in children’s books, especially early children’s literature. There was some focus on friendship in the book, but it wasn’t presented well enough for me to be considered a powerful friendship. Harry Potter’s characters have entranced millions of people…and I can see why. Rowling’s characters definitely leave an impact. Harry was criticized as being too perfect in the first book, I can see that to some extent. But Harry almost had to be built up the way he was in the first book, he gets humbled later down the series. Overall, Rowling gives more attention to her characters and that’s why she wins this part. 1 for Rowling.
So this means Rowling: 4, Ibbotson: 1. Rowling wins! Now, please don’t think I’m biased. I love Harry Potter but I wouldn’t mind seeing a book that surpasses the series. In fact, I think The Edge Chronicles and School for Good and Evil series could beat it, in my eyes that is.
But exactly where are Harry Potter and Platform 13 similar? In mainly these following ways:
-There’s a platform that goes into a magical world.
-There’s a special boy treated poorly (typical in children’s lit)
-Raymond Trottle is a lot like Dudley Dursley (But fat, obnoxious kid is not an uncommon character type)
-There’s an old wizard (Again, not an uncommon character type.)
In the end, I don’t think there was any plagiarism. There’s just not enough similarities. Although I enjoy reading Harry Potter more, Platform 13 is a more original book that doesn’t do enough.