Here We Go Again Harry!
NADIA KABIR BARB
My introduction to our now very familiar friend Harry Potter was completely by chance. It must have been sometime in 1998 (Harry Potter was first published in 1997) when I was on a channel surfing marathon and my attention was caught by a book review carried out by children in a Oprah Winfrey Show. They were referring to the Harry Potter book and at the time I wasn't even clear whether the name of the author was Harry Potter or whether the book was called Harry Potter. The children were raving about the character who they felt able to relate to. Despite the fact that the book seemed to contain witches, wizards, magic etc. the story was set in contemporary times and was written in a style that was reader friendly. What interested me the most was the interview of the parents of some of these children where they thanked the author (who I found out to be J. K. Rowling) for luring their children away from the television and computer games towards the world of literature. Some of them commented that this was the first time she had seen her child read a book with so much eagerness and enthusiasm.
As coincidence would have it, a few weeks later at a school book fair I came across the book "Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone" and with all the positive comments from the show still fresh in my mind, I decided to buy it for my daughter who was only five years old at the time. Given the fact that the book was longer than our usual nightly reading sessions, I got my husband to start the book. As I lay with my children, listening to my husband's voice bringing the character of Harry to life even I was drawn into the magical world of Hogwarts. After that it was a case of both my husband and I offering and then insisting on reading the story to our daughter! By the time the second book The Chamber of Secrets had come out, Harry Potter had already become a worldwide phenomenon. Both the first and second book combined, sold over 30 million copies! Many of J. K. Rowling's detractors will argue that the book is not literary genius material, nor are her ideas completely original, but one fact they have to concede to is that she has truly caught the imagination of the not just the children of today but also touched something within the adult population as well. Maybe it appeals to the inner child in us that not very many children's books manage to do these days. As a parent, I was delighted to find my daughter determined to try and read the third book in the Harry Potter series by herself and for that my gratitude must extend to Ms. Rowling.
The third and fourth book The Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire followed in quick succession and in 2001 the first Harry Potter film opened to an incredible response and has made over $950 million! Nowadays the release of the Harry Potter books is accompanied by major book openings parties including face painting, dressing up as the characters, etc. In fact thousands of Potter parties transformed shops throughout the world. In the UK, the bookseller Ottakar's temporarily changed its name to Pottakar's, with 135 of its 137 stores opening for midnight! In Oxford Street, "Waterstones" was one of the bookshops to open its doors at midnight for the release of the latest book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. People were seen to be queuing for hours and the line of people snaked its way down the street and around the corner with hundreds of hopeful Potter fans desiring to be the first to acquire the book and read it before the night was out. In Scotland, where J. K. Rowling was to make an appearance for the launch of her new book, jugglers, fire-eaters, torch-throwers and ghouls lined the ancient cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile as black and white horse-drawn carriages took a group of 70 lucky children to the castle, which was illuminated with images of Harry and his friends. The 70 children were led up a red carpet by prefects carrying lanterns to the shrieks of envious fans who had gathered on the walkway in the hope of catching a glimpse of the author. At 11pm J.K Rowling emerged from a black limousine to sign autographs and talk to the press.
Finally, after what I am sure seems like an endless wait, the latest Harry Potter book is now gracing the shelves in most book shops around the world. The Half Blood Prince has been one of the most anticipated books in recent times. My daughter has immersed herself in the book and has to have the book pried out of her hands at meal times and bed time. I am assuming that this is a positive reflection on the contents of the latest Harry Potter book. Maybe by the time you read this article, I will have had an opportunity to review it myself!
(R) thedailystar.net 2005