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Potter Books Have Much to Offer Readers
Some say that Americans are illiterates who read only sports magazines and trashy romances, but I believe that many Americans crave imaginative, well-crafted writing. The mind-boggling success of Jeanette Rowing’s Harry Potter proves my point.
I read the first book in 1998, loved it and gave it to the grandboys who were aboudyeleven years old. A week later, I called. "How do you like Harry Potter?" "Well, Grandma, we haven’t started it because we’re not all that interested in it." "Put your mother on the phone." "Vicki, I’d like you to read a chapter a day to the boys." One of the philosophers said that the greatest gift a mother can give her children is to read to them. I know that this is true.
One chapter was enough. They took turns reading it themselves. They set an alarm clock, and when one boy’s time was up the book was snatched away even if he were in the middle of a sentence. That book taught them that they loved to read. Soon they were reading at an adult level.
I clucked a little at their reading the likes of Stephen King and Ann Rice at such a young age, but the main thing was that they became proficient readers. Then, too, I remembered that my parents forbade me to read The Scandalous Mrs. Blackford that my brother had loaned them, and they kept it hiidden.
Naturally, I searched until I found it. Whenever they’d leave, I’d avidly read until I’d hear them arriving home .Ah, forbidden fruit is so sweet! Such escapades turned me into a speed reader. Alas, one day the book was gone from its hiding place. They’d returned it to Earl, and I never did find out how it ended! It didn’t seem to have hurt me as my life has been about as far from scandalous as you can get. Further, the boys haven’t become monsters of depravity or practitioners of black magic.
They went to the store at midnight to buy the final volume of Harry Potter and read it in one sitting. One of my nine-year old great nephews could hardly wait to get it. Think of it: a nine-year-old reading a book that’s over seven hundred pages long! It’s purportedly a children’s book, but most children’s books don’t have such long sentences and words like "doppleganger."
One of he nifty--the grandboys would say "cool"--things about the series is that they’ve grown up along with Harry. They’re eighteen, and Harry turns seventeen in the last book. He underwent changes as he grew older, including the moodiness of adolescence and worrying about the opposite sex.
The houseboat was rather quiet this year because three of us were racing through the book so that we could discuss it with those who had already read it. Then one of the husbands started reading it. "This boat has turned into a darned library!" exclaimed one of the fellows.
Each suspense-filled chapter leads the reader on to the next so that one reads faster . . . faster . . . Ooh what deliciously evil characters such as Dolores Umbridge who tries to camouflage her wickedness by wearing pink and having pictures of cute kittens on her office walls! She makes the wicked witch of the East in the Wizard of Oz look angelic by contrast. Oh the horrors of giant spiders and Nagini, a terrifying snake who is fed one of the professors for dinner by Him Who Is Not Named! Oh the shivery thrills of following Harry and his friends into dark and mysterious places during his struggle against the supremely evil Voldmort--and what a wonderful name that is as "mort" means "dead" in French.
The books are an enchanting mixture of good and evil, light and dark, fun and fear, and tales of derring-do! Each reader has favorite characters, incidents and magical items. I love the magical red train that takes the kids to Hogwarts and the splendor of the dining hall at Hogwarts School for Sorcerers that’s lit by candles suspended in air and where the most delectable food magically appears. Then there’s Hermione’s purse that expands to hold books, a tent, a rug, a battered easy chair, clothing and a conglomeration of items and then shrinks so that it can carried in a pocket when Harry, Ron Weasley and she go on their last quest. What an imagination Rowings has!
More to come. Alas, some people are not wild about Harry.
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