THE BOOK: Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.
THE AUTHOR: Philip Pullman, born on 19th of October 1946 is a writer from Norwich, England. He is the son of Audrey Avelyn Pullman and Alfred Outram Pullman. He spent most of his childhood in travel as his father was in the Air force. Part of early days, he lived in Australia, as his mother remarried. That is where he developed his love for writing. He was very amused by the comics and their characters especially Batman and Superman. During 1957 Pullman spent his time with his grandfather in Norfolk where he found John Milton‘s ‘Paradise Lost’ that later became the base for his work ‘His Dark Materials’. After finishing school he studied in Exeter College, Oxford where he did his Bachelors in Arts in 1968. He also discovered William Blake‘s illustrations in 1970 that also influenced him in his works later on. In the same year he got married to Judith Speller.
THE CHALLENGES (courtesy of Marshall University):
2009 – Retained by the publicly funded Dufferin-Peel Catholic School District in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada) with a sticker on the inside cover telling readers “representations of the church in this novel are purely fictional” and are not reflective of the real Roman Catholic Church or the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2008 – Removed, but later returned to the library shelves at dozens of schools in the publicly funded Halton (Ontario, Canada) Catholic School District despite that the books were challenged as being “written by an atheist where the characters and text are anti-God, anti-Catholic, and anti-religion.” The book and two other Pullman titles from the Dark Matters trilogy were pulled from public display for review, but available to students upon request. The publicly funded Calgary (Alberta, Canada) Catholic School District returned the book to its library shelves two months after ordering its removal. Detractors accused the book of having anti-religious content. Challenged at the Conkwright Middle School in Winchester (KY) because the main character drinks wine and ingests poppy with her meals and the book presents an anti-Christian doctrine. Pulled from the St. John Neumann Middle School and Lourdes High School in OshKosh (WI) because concerns about what critics call its “anti-Christian message.” Challenged at the Shallowater Middle School in Lubbock (TX) because of the book’s “anti-religious message.” Pulled from the library shelves at Ortega Middle School in Alamosa (CO) for what critics regard as the book’s anti-religious views. District officials later returned the book to circulation. Retained by the publicly funded Dufferin-Peel Catholic School District in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada) with a sticker on the inside cover telling readers “representations of the church in this novel are purely fictional” and are not reflective of the real Roman Catholic Church or the Gospel of Jesus Christ.