HotAIR - Bomby and Harry


Bomby and Harry

by Sally Shelton, Collections Officer, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Bomby, the Bombardier Beetle is marketed as a children's creation science book, a genre about which I was not knowledgeable. To clarify this, I compared Bomby to another seminal work in children's fantasy literature, the Harry Potter series, which focuses on the coming of age of a fledgling teen wizard in England.

This reviewer was struck, or smote, by the unshakable suspicion that these two lead characters are unaccountably adrift, each in the other's world. Consider the following points.


* Bomby lives in a secure, two-parent, patriarchal nuclear family with access to older family members (a distinctly human trait).

* Prior to entering Hogwarts, and during all breaks from school, Harry lives in a dark confined area with spiders (a distinctly arthropodal trait).


* Bomby has to learn everything from older male family members through oral history, and appears to have no instinctively hard-wired behaviors (definitely a higher vertebrate trait).

* Harry appears to know things instinctively from the first and has definite propensities for automatic wizardly behaviors (not a particularly human trait).


* Bomby has simple, binocular vision (definitely not an insect trait).

* Harry appears in at least one illustration to have compound eyes (an arthropod trait for sure).


* Bomby does not fly, though he has wings (more of a human trait).

* Harry does, though he has none (either an inset or a non-hominid vertebrate trait).


* Bomby is an adult-stage insect with dependent juvenile behavior (definitely a human trait).

* Harry is a juvenile-stage human with independent adult behavior (more of an insect trait).

But Then...

They do, however, appear to share some traits:

* Both cause pyrotechnic explosions.

* Both exist in worlds in which dragons are real presences.

* Both are experts in organic chemistry (Bomby with hydroquinones, Harry with thujone and the other components of wormwood).

* Both are at the mercy of external forces (magic for Harry, the Hand o' God for Bomby).

* Both are active athletes (Quidditch for Harry; what appears to be frass-lot baseball for Bomby).

Bomby? Harry?

Bomby or Harry? Both! We know of Bomby/Harry that:

* He learns from others how his defense mechanism works, and who his enemies are.

* He has an innate defense system that he has to be shown how to use.

* He lives in a world in which scientific principles don't seem to apply.

Conclusion: The creation science of Bomby and the high-concept fantasy of Harry Potter are, dare I say it, fundamentally the same.

This HotAIR feature first appeared in Volume 6 Issue 5 of the print magazine. For a complete list of web site featured articles, see What's New.