Sorting Hat Sunday: The School Story

To make up for the lack of Sorting Hat Saturday last week, I’ve decided to go ahead and do two this week, the one I was planning for last week and a new one. This past week, I was reading The School Story, by Andrew Clements – a really cute and inspiring book for elementary school students – and it struck me how well its two main characters fit into Hogwarts houses, although not in the ways you might expect.

Natalie: Ravenclaw. I mean, this is a preteen girl who writes a novel good enough to be published. Is there any question which house she would be in? She’s quieter and less confident than her best friend, Zoe, but she takes pleasure in intellectual challenges – like novel-writing – that other kids her age would see as daunting, if not impossible. Natalie is never portrayed as a nerd, in the sense of unpopular or socially awkward, but she’s intelligent and creative to the extreme.

Zoe: Slytherin. I’ve talked a lot before about how Slytherin traits could be positive if not taken to unhealthy extremes, but it’s often hard to find characters that demonstrate that. Zoe definitely does. She’s absolutely full of ambition, but it doesn’t take the form of selfishness or lust for power. She wants to see her best friend succeed more than she wants anything for herself, and – clearly influenced by her aggressive lawyer father – she finds every loophole and legal gray area she needs to get Natalie’s book published. Pretending to be an adult and a literary agent – and successfully pulling it off – is nothing if not cunning. I’m sure we would look at a character like Zoe very differently if she was working against the main character and not with her.


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