Okay, okay, I admit it. I’m addicted to the entire Harry Potter scene; the books (both written words and audio), all eight movies, the website (www.pottermore.com ), and the theme park in Florida. I know I’m no longer a young lad and perhaps a little old to be fascinated by a fantasy tale about a boy and his epic battles with a super bad guy (aka: he-who-shall-not-be named), but so be it.
Let’s start with the writing: it’s damn terrific. I believe the series should be required reading in all fifth grades. There are seven books that all contain riveting adventures and twisting side stories, and somehow, perhaps magically, tie together at the end of the final book. J.K. Rowling has woven together a tale that involves a handful of little kids that, by the way, you’ll fall in love with, all sorts of magical devices (the Marauder’s Map and Port Key being two of my favorites), and the badest of the bad evil creatures. Dolores Umbridge, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Nagini the snake immediately come to mind.
Oh, how I wish I had the talent to write as well! Rowling created a parallel society to our own non-magical (muggle) existence that remains hidden from us by a series of charms and cloaking devices. What a concept!
The audio books, read by Jim Dale, are like old friends. For most of the year, they quietly reside on my bookshelf, gathering a bit of dust, until called upon to accompany me on my next adventure (aka: yet another drive across North America to our second home in Colorado). Jim’s soothing tone ensnares me at the onset of disk one, and accompanies me from Charlotte NC to Albuquerque NM.
Then there are the movies. Talk about comfort films! I’ve viewed these eight productions so many times I could easily turn off the volume and Karaoke any number of the characters. I do wish the movie makers would release another version of the films, this time staying much closer to the written plot and complete with all those scenes they left out in the interest of time and the whims of Hollywood. None the less, watching the Harry Potter movies (except for “The Order of the Phoenix” which contains the hated Dolores Umbridge) is like settling back with a bowl of fresh strawberry shortcake. And by the way, in case you were wondering, my favorite is “Prisoner of Azkaban.”
The Pottermore website is one of those places I visit when I should be writing but am searching for something else to do because I’m not in the mood. Sometimes, the site contains some nifty trivia quizzes that’ll suck me in for an hour or so. Back in my college days, if I would have studied engineering the way I’ve studied the volumes of Harry Potter, my grade point average wouldn’t have been so unremarkable.
And finally the Magical Word of Harry Potter Theme Park in Florida. What a place! The attention to detail is astonishing. This is where all of us Harry Potter geeks gather. Like the movies, they could have done better, especially with the “rides.” But, Olivander’s wand shop is pretty cool, as is Knocturn Alley, and the Hogwarts Express. At left are some of my family posing in front of the Leaky Cauldron, Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice in hand. And if for no other reason, the wonderment worn across the faces of all the kids stepping onto Diagon Alley for the first time is in itself, reason to pass through the barrier behind The Leaky Cauldron.
I’d like to write more about my love of all things Harry Potter, but I’ve got to run; it’s time for the extended version of “The Half-Blood Prince” to be aired.
And remember, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” ― J.K. Rowling