Thursday, July 4, 2013

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling*

Description: Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter. (from the back of the book)

My Thoughts: Philosopher's Stone was a fun read. Rowling uses satire a great deal in all of the Harry Potter books, including this one. Her descriptions of the Dursley family are hilarious and almost seem like a family that you or I could meet walking down the street. She pokes a great deal of fun at human nature in wizards and non-wizards (Muggles) alike. The wizarding world if full of quirky characters, and I love the idea of a world where being quirky is almost an advantage.

I will admit that this has never been one of my favorite Harry Potter books. Rereading it now, after a good long time away, I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that this is Rowling's first book. Her style develops for the better over the series, but in this first book it is more telling and less showing than I tend to prefer.

Philosopher's Stone is a children's book; it was odd to come back to a children's book after reading the whole series, which matures in content and style as Harry does. Harry and the other children definitely do seem like children of 11 and 12, which are their ages in this book.

*A note to the curious: Although I will be using pictures of the American covers because I think Mary Grandpré's cover designs are absolutely beautiful, I have kept Rowling's original title despite it being changed by her American publishers because they thought no child would read a book with the word 'philosopher' in the title)

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