Harry Potter…Still Going
By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager
Bloomsbury Publishing first published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in London in 1997. In the U.S., we know the book as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published by Scholastic in 1998. I caught Harry Potter fever when I started working in children’s library services in 1999. I remember pre-ordering Goblet of Fire, the fourth book, from Amazon which guaranteed I would receive it on the day it came out, while throngs of kids went to bookstores for midnight parties of the book release. No one could have predicted 20 years ago how this series would change publishing, affect reading patterns, and become a part of common knowledge around the globe.
And here we are, 20 years later, still crazy about J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world. At our library, you can join us to celebrate what Bloomsbury has dubbed Harry Potter Book Night on February 1st. All ages can join in the fun.
I remember the devastation some readers felt when Rowling announced there would be only seven books in the series. But of course, something this magical can’t just end. Harry Potter lovers have much to keep them occupied these days.
The eight Harry Potter movies were extremely popular, and recently Fantastic Beasts opened up the wizard world, making it truly international. The main character, Newt Scamander, is mentioned in the original books as the author of an important textbook for Hogwarts students called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Rowling published a book with this title in 2001, but now it’s expanded into a world of its own. Newt traveled all over the globe researching his book, and while the first movie brought us to the United States, the second will be set mostly in Paris, and the following three movies will probably be in other cities, too. Offshoot books include a cinematic guide, character guide, new editions of Rowling’s original, and the screenplay of the movie.
In 2016, a play opened in London titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written by Jack Thorne along with J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany. You can read the script in book form, and eventually see the play on Broadway, opening in April this year. The new story focuses on Harry and Ginny Potter’s middle child, Albus Severus Potter, who is troubled by inner feelings of failure and disappointment. When he enters Hogwarts, he is sorted into Slytherin, another devastating blow to his family’s name, and becomes best friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the surprisingly likeable son of Draco and Astoria. There’s plenty here to satisfy readers in need of some Hogwarts drama, if you can get used to reading the story as a script.
Many readers have kept the Harry Potter spirit alive by reading, and by writing, fan fiction that takes place in the same world and with the same or newly invented characters. A librarian colleague of mine notes that “Harry Potter is eternally popular for ‘fanfic’. It’s not nearly the oldest fandom, but it definitely has staying power, staying strong from message boards to listservs, and from fansites to Tumblr.”
New Illustrated Books
Bloomsbury, and to a lesser extent, Scholastic have been releasing lots of new editions lately, with new illustrations, or special house color design covers, etc. Popular book illustrator Brian Selznick is doing the artwork for new paperback editions that will be out for Harry’s birthday in July. Jim Kay, a UK illustrator and printmaker, was given the amazing job of creating fully illustrated versions of all the Harry Potter books. The first three are out and have been captivating readers with this skilled artist’s colorful imaginings of the well-known characters and events. These illustrations provide a nice contrast to the movie images, especially for kids who saw the movies before, or instead of, reading the books. (Never ask a librarian if the book was better. The book is always better.)
Harry Potter and Harry Potter Lego video games have been very popular for years. A couple of new games coming out include a mobile Hogwarts Mystery role-playing game set in the 80s, and an app game that will be similar to Pokemon Go.
Love for Harry Potter does not seem to be fading. At the library, we have incorporated it into our Kids Book Club, which meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday each month. February’s meetings will feature Harry Potter books, as well as the Dragon Slayers’ Academy series, with snacks, games and crafts. Some activities include “poison ball” and “knock out the dragon’s teeth.” The February 1st event from 6:00-8:00 will include quidditch (sort of) in the auditorium, Harry Potter trivia, Fantastic Beasts crafts and more. All muggles welcome!