JULY 31, 2012
Happy Birthday, Harry Potter
Harry Potter was born on July 31, 1997 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in the UK, and released fourteen months later in the U.S., as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. July 31 also happens to be the birthday of author J.K. Rowling, who first dreamed up the boy wizard while on train to London in 1990. By 2007, Rowling’s idea had blossomed into a seven-book fantasy series about a boy wizard and a magical world where the battle against evil is fought not only with spells and potions and charms, but with friendship and love.
The Harry Potter series is a landmark work of children’s literature that continues to be popular with readers of all ages. It is superb fantasy, a great coming of age story, gripping, fun and filled with richly drawn characters – some endearing, others loathsome. Collectively the series has sold over 450 million copies and has been translated into more than 63 languages. The Potter franchise, which includes books, movies, and merchandise, has earned $6 billion worldwide, and has made J.K. Rowling, who was a single mother on welfare when she received the 2,500 British pound advance for the first book, a billionaire.
Happy birthday to J.K. Rowling and to you, Harry Potter.
Categories: Lets Talk Books, Harry Potter, Staff Reads
JUNE 18, 2011
O.K., Harry Potter fans, listen up. J.K. Rowling will launch the Pottermore Web site on June 23. There has been a lot of speculation as to what surprise might be in store for Harry Potter fans at the site. So what will it be? A "Second Life"-type Harry Potter game? Post-Harry Potter series stories? Online courses from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? What do you think?
Categories: Harry Potter, In the Know
AUGUST 8, 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
SPOILER ALERT – IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE DETAILS OF HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, DON’T READ THESE POSTINGS!
The Harry Potter series is now complete with the July 21 release of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For those of us who have finished the book, it’s time to begin the discussion!
In this book, Harry and his friends seek the remaining horicruxes (items that contain pieces of Voldemort’s divided soul ) in order to help finish off the evil wizard. To that end, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron have decided not to return to Hogwart’s school for their final year, instead embarking on their quest. Dumbledore has left behind bequests to the three friends that include clues and other information that prove to be of vital use to them.
In the opening chapter, Harry leaves the Dursley’s for good. Was anyone else surprised by Harry's parting with his cousin Dudley? Perhaps some of Harry's goodness rubbed off on him, in spite of his upbringing and his unyielding parents.
The wizarding world is gearing up for a showdown – a war, if you will - between Voldemort, his Death Eaters, and other sympathizers and Dumbledore’s Army, the Order of the Phoenix, and those left in the Ministry of Magic who haven’t turned coat. Meanwhile, Inside Hogwarts, many changes are underway. How did the readers feel about these changes? It was difficult to believe that things could have become even worse than they were under the administration of Dolores Umbridge. I felt sad for the students.
Early in the story a major character is killed and another severely injured. In doing so, the author prepares the reader for the fact that some of the good guys are going to die before the story ends. And, indeed, they do! Let’s talk about some of those losses and our reactions to them.
Does anyone have comments on the pace of the story – particularly in the section where Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are making very slow progress, and hardship and frustrations set in?
SPOILER ALERT: One of the most heart-wrenching moments for me was the heroic death of Dobby, and the aftermath when Harry digs his grave. I felt great sadness over the loss of faithful, loyal Dobby, but I admired Harry’s response. It was a turning point for him - from boyhood to manhood. Any thoughts on this section of the story?
I was very pleased with the outcome of the story. I was also grateful for the epilogue, but disappointed that was didn’t learn what happened to Luna, who emerged late in the series as one of the most perceptive and supportive of Harry’s friends.
Oh, there is so much to discuss! Does anyone have any particular aspects of the book that you’d like to discuss with other readers?
Category: Harry Potter
JULY 20, 2007
Wow! What a week...
I'm writing this on the tale end of Friday night after an event-filled week at the Monterey Public Library.
From our weekly Tuesday storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers to a gala evening of wine and chocolate tasting sponsored by the Friends of the LIbrary to tonight's triumphant "Harry Potter Trivia Contest III" - whew, what a week!
Thursday evening's fundraiser for the Library featured delectable chocolate treats from many generous business sponsors, delightful music by Library staff members Kyle and Glenn, a chocolate cookie contest. And a library filled with almost two hundred community members feasting, catching up with their neighbors, enjoying good times. As someone told me last night - "Besides books, this Library holds the heart of our city - and shares it with everyone."
Tonight's Harry Potter Trivia contest brought together over two hundred kids, teens and adults - all good-humored and very knowledgable fans of the J.K. Rowling series. Three teams of contestants, divided by age, took the stage. It was disparate group in many ways - and yet all were united by a love for the Harry Potter series - and possibly a need to fill the hours before tonight's midnight release!
The "Harry phenomenon" leaps across 63 languages and over 4 million books in eager readers' hands. No book has been as anxiously awaited as this last one - in my lifetime as a reader. And yet, it will be with very mixed emotions that I finally open the cover tomorrow morning, and dive inside.
I can't wait to find out what has become of Harry, Ron, Hermione and all those familiar friends. And yet, I know it will be our last new journey together - and I don't want to close the cover on that magical world. I will slow as I read through the chapters, savoring and delaying every page.
And I will cherish the hush that will rise around the world tomorrow - the peaceful sound of pages turning, indrawn breath - the quiet of millions of readers travelling together. One last time.
Categories: Director's Blog, Harry Potter
JULY 3, 2007
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Let's take a moment to look back to book six...
In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Harry finds that his life is becoming darker and more dangerous. Voldemort is back and Wizards and Muggles are dying, but it's back to school for Harry, Ron, and Hermione as usual. They find yet ANOTHER new 'Defense Against the Dark Arts' teacher, begin their NEWT classes, and Harry gets Potions help from the mysterious 'Half-Blood Prince'. Quidditch is as popular as ever, and Harry finds himself having to throw together a whole new Gryffindor team. Plus then there is the ever popular 'Slug Club' with the new Potions teacher. Romance comes to Hogwarts, and is a welcome balance to the grim happenings elsewhere. Harry deeply questions his own feelings while trying to understand the effect it is having on his friends. And yet while life at Hogwarts continues, the deaths also continue, and someone is trying to bring it into Hogwart's. Danger seems to lurk around every corner, and Harry is as determined as ever to unmask it. Dumbledore continues to guide Harry and together they try to unlock the secret of Voldemort and find a way to stop him before it is too late. Harry finds he must decide between what's right and what's easy.
Here are some questions to discuss in the comments area below:
1) Which character made these comments while in conversation with Ron:
"'Harry Potter knows that he can confide in me with complete confidence,' I told them. 'I would rather die than betray his trust.'"
"That's not saying much, seeing as you're already dead," Ron observed.
"Once again, you show all the sensitivity of a blunt axe," said _______ in affronted tones.
2) What do you think of Draco Malfoy's attitude change?
3) Who is this mysterious "Half Blood Prince"?
4) Who's side do you think Snape is really on?
5) What do you think will happen in book 7?
And here's a special bonus for our loyal blog readers. I have TWO extra tickets for the opening of the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie and I'm giving away them away here!
a) These tickets are only good for Wednesday July 11th showing at 12:05am taking place at the Century Theatres at the Del Monte Center here in Monterey. (You will be arriving at the movie theater Tuesday evening, and watching the film right after the clock flips to Wednesday.) Please make sure you are able to see the movie at this date and time!!!
b) To enter, send an *email* to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and phone number.
c) Emails will be accepted until the end of the day Saturday, July 7th
d) On Sunday, July 8th, I will randomly pick one winner who will receive both tickets. The winner will be notified by phone and then you'll need to pick up the tickets in the library.
Categories: Harry Potter, Teen Zone
JUNE 12, 2007
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.
There's officially only 39 days left until the final book is released in the Harry Potter series! Also, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix hits the big screen on July 13th! Are you excited yet?
At the beginning of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, we meet up with Harry who is spending yet again another summer at Four Privet Drive, with the Dursleys. Harry is hiding in the bushes under the windowsill outside, listening to the news. There seems to be no news of Voldemort causing terror or chaos, but Harry's sigh of relief does not last long. Attacked by a dementor, Harry has to use magic outside of school to protect Dudley and himself.
Almost immediately after the incident of the dementor, an owl flies through an open window, dropping a letter that expels Harry from Hogwarts for improper use of magic and announces that someone will be arriving shortly to destroy his wand. Harry receives several more letters in the next few minutes, telling to stay put and not leave the house. Eventually, the Ministry notifies Harry that he can keep his wand, until his disciplinary hearing.
Not long after, there is a crash of the door at Four Privet Drive, and Harry is face to face with 9 members of the Order Of the Phoenix, who have come to take him to a safer location until his hearing. It is at the secret location of 12 Grimmauld Place, in London, does Harry learn about the Order of the Phoenix, an anti-Voldemort society, which has begun its secret meetings once again after Voldemort's return.
Harry is taken to the Ministry of Magic for his hearing, and his case is dropped. This only sparks the beginning of another chaotic school year for Harry, starting with an odd train ride in which Harry shares a cabin with Ginny, and Luna "Loony" Lovegood. Harry and the others arrive at Hogwarts to find Hagrid missing. Strange emaciated horse-like winged creatures, called Thestrals, are pulling the carriages. A warning comes from the Sorting Hat (which it only does when it feels Hogwarts is in danger.) They are then introduced to their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge, who has been hired by the Ministry. Throughout the story, she gains most power at Hogwarts by becoming High Inquisitor, and not soon long after even headmistress after discovering a dozen of the student’s Defense Against the Dark Arts study group, in which Harry was leading.
If this wasn't all enough for Harry to handle, he has to face taking the OWL exams this year! Harry struggles with finding time to balance Order of the Phoenix meetings, OWL exams, and extra lessons of Occlumency with Snape, friends, and his feelings for Cho Chang. On top of all this, are dreams that Harry cannot explain, and a mysterious search for something Voldemort has been trying to find.
Here are a few questions, that are much easier to answer, then those on an OWL exam!
1. Who is Mrs. Figg? What does Harry learn about her?
2. Which two characters become Griffindor prefects in Order of the Phoenix?
3. What exactly are Thestrals? Why is it that only Harry, Luna, and Neville can see them?
4. What two players are kicked off the Gryffindor Quidditch team, other then Harry? Who is selected to replace Harry as Quidditch Seeker?
5. When Hagrid returns to Hogwarts, whom does he bring back with him?
6.Which characters drop out of Hogwarts? To pursue what dream?
7. What is the black veil? What happens to Sirius when he falls behind it?
8. At the end of the book, Harry hears his prophecy. If you could learn something about your future, would you want to know?
Category: Harry Potter
MAY 24, 2007
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Only 58 more days to go before the release of book seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Let’s continue the discussion by talking about book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. To me, the series really starts to change with this book – things get more serious, and more sinister. Voldemort gets stronger, the Death Eaters start to gather, and characters that you get to know, actually die. That said, the Goblet of Fire is probably my favorite.
The book starts out with the Quidditch World Cup. I love the idea of 100,000 witches and wizards converging on a “nice deserted moor” to watch an international quidditch game. The camping tents that wizards use are very cool, and so are the things that fans can buy – like miniature Quidditch players that walk around on the palm of your hand.
But most of the action in book four centers around the Triwizard Tournament. Inter-house quidditch games are cancelled at Hogwarts for the year, so that a champion from each of the three largest European schools of wizardry - Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts - can compete for the Triwizard Cup. The goblet of fire, supposedly an impartial selector, chooses the contestants. The tournament is a big deal in the international wizardry community. It hasn’t been held for over a hundred years because the death toll of the contestants was too high. As a precaution, Dumbledore casts a spell to prevent anyone under 17 from being able to enter. Nevertheless, the goblet selects Harry, who is only 14, and that’s after it has already selected a champion for each of the schools.
The tasks are difficult and dangerous. When Harry faces the Hungarian Horntail, his initial anxiety almost leaps off the page. When he keeps putting off solving the clue for the second task, I wanted to jump in there and shake him. The tension before each task is intense.
We are hosting our own tournament of sorts, a Hary Potter Trivia Contest, on July 20th to celebrate the series and the release of the 7th book. Click here for details and to print out an application.
Here are some questions to discuss while we're waiting:
Category: Harry Potter
MAY 8, 2007
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
As of this post, we've now got seventy-four days left until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Leading up to the conclusion of this magical series, let's begin a discussion of book #3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which just so happens to be my favorite!
In this story, Harry returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry under close watch, for better or worse, by everyone from teachers to the the Minister of Magic, while dementors prowl on the lookout for Sirius Black who has escaped from Azkaban Prison.
Here are a few questions to get the conversation started:
1) It seemed ironic to me that poor Harry finally gets to return to Hogwarts after a miserable summer trapped at the home of the insufferable Dursleys, just to be "trapped" again at Hogwarts - as his every action is scrutinized and his movements restricted. Which other characters are "trapped" in this story?
2) In this story Harry learns the deeper meaning of friendship and loyalty, even though there is a great deal of friction among the various characters. From which characters does Harry learn these lessons?
3) Does anyone remember the trick to opening the Monster Book of Monsters?
4.) Now that we have a little insight into Snape's schoolboy experience with James Potter and his friends, do you empathize with him? Or does he seem even less likeable than before?
5) If you were an animagus, what animal would you become? Why?
6) Crookshanks was a bit of a puzzle to me. Hermoine's cat turns out to be a friend of Padfoot's (Serius Black); Crookshanks knows all along that Scabbers is Peter Pettigrew, and he knows how to press the knot on the Whomping Willow? Is Crookshanks something other than just Hermoine's pet cat? I don't remember this ever being explained in anywhere, or maybe I just missed it. Can anyone enlighten me?
7) If you could have a Marauder's Map of any location, what would it be? How would you use it?
Category: Harry Potter
APRIL 17, 2007
Countdown, installment 2! Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
It’s the second installment of our countdown to the arrival of the seventh in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling . Today is April 18, the release date is July 21. Only 95 days left!
There was something new and different about J.K. Rowling’s magical world when it was still brand new. In the Library it has been so exciting to see the devotion and interest in reading produced by the series. What other good books were you led to by the Harry Potter frenzy? Readers of all ages went wild and I loved recommending lots of other books (especially for kids,) to read to occupy their minds while waiting for each new installment. The second book just increased reader’s appetite for good books. Here are a few of my favorites. Do you have any you’d like to add?
When we come back to the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Dursley family continues to be unhappy about having him around. He is better at magic and is now able to threaten Dudley and get an amusing reaction.
Harry misses Ron and Hermione, especially after he realizes they were not really ignoring him over the summer. The Weasley’s welcome him back with open arms, and help him feel part of their family.
The new and popular Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher takes Harry under his wing, but I wonder if Harry learns anything from him. Lockhart doesn’t seem the “Dark Arts” type. But he has an award-winning smile.
Clues are piling up in the deepening mystery of Voldemort’s power. Snape is as confusing as ever, I think that he dislikes Harry, and that he is very powerful, but not a bad-guy, though all evidence is to the contrary. Do you think he will turn out to be a friend or a foe?
Dumbledore appears once in a while to help and advise Harry. For some reason, he seems to hide his feelings of protectiveness to Harry. Do you agree?
Here are some questions for you: 1. Did you find any good books when you were waiting for the other Harry Potter books to come out? What were they, or which one was your favorite?
2. I, personally, think there’s a lot more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye, what do you think?
3. How badly do you think Harry needs Ron and Hermione’s help?
4. What do you think of Lockhart? Does he help at all, or just get in the way?
5. Is Snape good or bad? It’s a common question that everyone likes to discuss, but what do you think?
Category: Harry Potter
APRIL 2, 2007
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
To celebrate the 7th and final Harry Potter book (which will be coming to a library near you on July 21st!) we here at the library are conducting a count-down discussion right smack here on this blog. So welcome and come join in the fun!
We're kicking things off with book number one: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!
When did you first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? Were you one of those people that discovered it right off the bat? Or did you only pick it up after every one of your friends and family had read it?
Personally I was working at a bookstore around the time that the first two books were starting to hit US bestseller lists. I was wary at first, being not normally a huge fan of fantasy titles, but after my co-workers started to rave on and on about them, I decided to give them a go. I picked up The Sorcerer's Stone and have been a Harry Potter addict ever since.
Looking back now, I think I'd have to say that the first book is my least favorite. I don't know about you, but I thought it started a bit slowly. All the good adventures don't seem to happen until they arrive at Hogwarts, plus I'd also have to say that reading about Harry's life with the Dursleys is pretty depressing and the whole first section of this books takes place with the Dursleys!
However, I'd have to say that I was really impressed with the ending. Getting though all those obstacles and then that trick with the mirror was very cool. It definitely left me very eager to start book number two.
Anyways, what do you think? Feel free to agree or disagree with anything I said or add your own thoughts or questions in the comment area.
Also, here's a poll to get us started - please add your answers below:
Categories: Harry Potter, Teen Zone