Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hermione: May I Borrow Your Time-Turner, Please? Or Thank You, J.K. Rowling.

Back in 1997, I was the mom of two small children.  Aaron, my eldest, was six and my youngest, Alex, was just two.  They had their favorite shows, books, and characters.  Aaron loved Shining Time Station.  That was HIS show.  I loved it, too.  Not only did the show have two great hosts, if you will:  first was Ringo Starr... cheeky, yet lovable, and  in later seasons  George Carlin stepped in.  Who knew he could be so ... calm?  Aaron learned the names of not only every train character, but even knew the names of every part of a steam engine, a cargo car, and a caboose, by the age of two.

Alex had two shows:  Little Bear and Blues (Steve) Clues.  Alex started his day with these two shows.  I loved watching all three with my kids.  I loved Ringo and George.  I loved the simplicity of Little Bear and his animal friends.  Little Bear's folks were hard-working and yet very calm and sweet.  Then there was Steve on Blue's Clues.  I adored that man.  He not only entertained and educated  my baby boy,  he swept me off of his feet with his boyish shots at adult humor.  Things he would say went right over a toddler's head, but would make an adult fall out of their chair.  I needed that in my life with my preschoolers.  Thank God Alex outgrew the show by the time Steve "left for college" and was replaced by his "cousin Joe"  What a loser.

I had heard of this new book that had come out:  Harry Potter.  Soon all of Aaron's school friends were talking about it.  Still, I wasn't really pressed to find out about it.  Another fad.  It'll pass.  Let's fast-forward four years.

I had seen the trailer for Harry Potter And the Sorcerer's Stone.  It looked interesting enough, but still, I had no real desire to see it, plus my kids didn't seem very interested.  Fast-forward one more year.  Aaron's eleventh birthday party.  One of the gifts he received was the book; Harry Potter And the Sorcerer's stone from a cousin.  He seemed very excited.  Seemed.  Nah.  It went right into the bookshelf and stayed there for months.  There were times when I'd see the trailer for the second movie, and I would pick it up and decide to read it -- only to put it back because I could never get past the third chapter.  I tried.  By now, the Harry craze was beginning to really start happening, and I wanted to know why.  Still, I just couldn't get past that third chapter.  I finally put it back into the bookshelf, branding it 'just a kids' thing that I'll never get' and decided not to try reading it, anymore.

A few months later, the family became ill.  Alex and I ended up with a really bad flu;  high fevers, chills aches, ague.  He and I slept together, being so sick.  I would wake up shivering.  TV was not something I could do, because I would wake Alex up.  I got up and went into the living room and to our bookshelf.  I scanned the books and saw the Harry Potter book.  Almost angrily, I slid it out of the shelf and went to the couch.  I was determined to get past that damned chapter, no matter how long it took me.  I forced myself to read past chapter three.  Before I knew it, it was daylight and the family was wandering about.  I had to get Aaron ready for school... Rob was in the shower... Alex, thankfully, was still sleeping.  I looked at the page I was on.  I had two more chapters to go... until the book was finished!  I got Aaron fed, dressed, hugged (flu -no kisses), and out the door and when Rob got out of the shower, I told him all about Harry.  I got quite a few looks that may as well have been pats on the sick wifey's head.  I'm so cute; reading and loving a child's book.  I finished it.  The second book: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had come out almost a year ago, and its movie run was almost finished.  That weekend, I made a note to pick up that second book.

By the time I read and finished that one, I re-read  both of them.  By the grace of God, I managed to finally get my husband (and oldest son) to read Sorcerer's Stone.  I promised both that they would love it.  I think it took my husband a few tries as well, but he too finally got past chapter three and the rest is history:  A Wild About Harry family was born.
When I read the first book, I was amazed by a lot of things.  One, I am reading a children's book, and absolutely loving it.  Two: the writing is superb.  I was so enraptured by the story's vivid details. J .K. Rowling was, in my opinion, a genius.  I found myself reading chapters over and over again, so that I could experience the taste of treacle tarts, and Butter beer.  Butter Beer sounds so delicious (in later books, we see Hermione in what J.K. Rowling bravely allows as a slightly tipsy Hermione having indulged a bit too quickly in the Three Broomsticks), while Pumpkin Juice just doesn't quite cut it for me.  Daily mail is brought via owls!  Every family has one! Photographs move and greet you - or  reprimand you - if you awaken them! 

If I had to pick out a favorite part of Sorcerer's Stone, it would be the part where Harry stumbles, quite accidentally, on an object called the Mirror of Erised.  Harry (For those that have not read the stories) is an orphan, his parents killed by the evil Lord Voldemort.  Harry is 'The Boy That Lived.'  He survived a brutal attack by Voldemort that was supposed to have killed him -- ah yes, direct your attention to the scar!  Harry is raised by his mother's sister and her family.  They are horrible to him.  He misses his parents dearly.  Enter the Mirror of Erised; I think this is pure genius.

Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi
Reversing the inscription and rearranging the spaces produces:
                                         I show not your face but your heart's desire.
The Mirror of Erised is a magic mirror, which, according to Albus Dumbledore - the schools head master - shows the "deepest and most desperate desire of our hearts." The happiest person in the whole world would look in the mirror and see a reflection of exactly the way he or she is.

And my favorite scene (and part from the book) is below.
Before I forget, I would also like to give a shout-out to the embarrassing Howler!  What is a Howler?  A Howler is a magical red envelope that delivers a loud, scolding reprimand to its recipient.  If the envelope is ignored, (all muggle and magical students are all too knowing when it comes to getting Howlers) it will explode.  When opened, the envelope bares sharp paper teeth with the voice of the sender (probably a parent), and loudly scolds the recipient and thus embarrassing the Hell out of them, all the while getting louder and louder until the reprimand is over and then it bursts into pieces.  Again, pure genius. Oh, what I would do to get my hands on some Howlers, sometimes!

We rented the first story and I was very interested but because I am usually let down by movie versions of books, I was looking to be let down.  As I began watching, I quickly realized that what I was seeing on my television screen was almost exactly how I had seen it pictured in my minds' eye.  Not for a scene here or there, but throughout the entire movie!  I could not get over it!  I was not alone. Character's descriptions, scenery, the shops, the personalities.  Especially the Head Master.  I was so amazed.  I still am.  I have to admit, I do love all of the movies.  As each book has gotten longer, more has to be left out of each screenplay.  That's just obvious... still some important stuff should be included... that's another blog.

Not only are some of the scenes so amazing, the soundtrack is fantastic.  Below is Buckbeak's Flight from the soundtrack of Harry Potter And the Goblet of Fire by John Williams.

Because we loved the books so much, when the fourth book, Harry Potter And the Goblet of Fire announced its completion, we had already seen the interesting mobs at booksellers at midnight on the day of release.  So, we took the kids to Borders (we pre-ordered the book and had our ticket) and the place was a madhouse.  Folks dressed up in characters from the stories.  Children and adults.  It was exciting... for about an hour.  Alex, almost four by now, grew restless and bored, and ultimately fell asleep in the Reference section.  Aaron did well, with only a few bouts of whiney boredom.  Finally midnight arrived, and soon the employees were slinging books in an organized chaos.  Now that we had our book, we went home and then had our first "who gets to read it first?" row.

As time went on, and books and movies came out, we kept up and grew even closer to Harry and his world.  Funny thing was, our sons didn't.  Sure, they read the books when they came out and went to the theater when the movie came out, but it was my husband and I who were totally engrossed in this world of wizardry.  When Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince came out, we actually argued over who was going to read the book first.  Rob won... I forget how, but he did.  I was so mad.  So I told him not to tell me one iota of the story.  As he read, I could see him wanting to talk about it.  I was firm.  NO discussion until I read it.

When the final book, Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows came out, I had had enough of losing the WWGTRIF contest.  So, to solve that problem, we simply bought two books.  How sad is that!?  Now, we could discuss a we read... or so Rob thought.  I still did not want spoil the story as I read, and yet, I was not about to set limits on how far each of us could read.  We carefully revealed where we were in the story before we discussed it.

Rob probably does not want me to disclose his love for the books.  I say, 'who cares?'  I do get where he's coming from, though.

So, why am I writing this?  There it is again;  that need to justify.  I don't mind.  I am writing this because I am sad.  I feel as if a big part of my life -- okay not big;  important?  In less than two weeks the final Harry Potter movie will be released.  Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows - Part Two.  All of these years,  we fans have had something to look forward to:  A new book.  A new film release.  As I completed the final book, I wept.  Okay, I wept at the end of every book.  I got melancholy nearing the ends of them, knowing I would have to wait a year or so before I could read a new book.  At least I had that to look forward to.  Now, the book series has ended.  And now, only days until we see the final film.  I am already emotional.  I know I will cry like a baby when the film ends and the credits roll... which I will read through my tear-filled eyes.  I will stand and applaud.  I will mourn.

I think J.K. Rowling has finally understood just how much impact her little story has affected her readers.  She has announced PotterMore  and while not much has been said about it, she plans on a huge project, and promises to add tidbits that she has written and stored for years... about our precious Harry and Co.  I've already signed up.  I think Rob is a bit reluctant.  I guess I'll have to start all over again and nudge him, just like I did years ago with that first book.

So, I would like to thank her.  For creating a world that my kids love to read about.  A lot of kids don't like to read.  She changed that.  Big time.  Thank you for the magic.  For the love.  And for Harry

Oh, and PS...  I still want a Golden Snitch tattooed on my shoulder.  Or maybe the "HP"... or "Expecto Patronum" with a cartooney Harry.  I'll get something.

Until next time... remember:

It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.  -  Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore


  1. As always, you brought your story to life, much as Ms. Rowling has done. I remember that by the time Half-blood Prince came out, I had not read any of the books, so while Brittany was reading that one, I read the other 5 (in a weekend)! Then thoroughly enjoyed HBP! Thanks for sharing, my friend!!!

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  3. Thanks for the sweet words! I doubt if we -- in our lifetime - will ever experience such a history-making writer, again. I'm glad to not only have been able to experience and ENJOY it, but that I was able to do so with my own children.


  4. nice post - something special about HP. i remember the furor from some circles over these 'occult' books leading kids down the wrong road. i couldn't get through the first book, either, (and I haven't conquered it the way you have) but I remember thinking, "Why can't you people just have a little imagination?! Kids are READING!!! Who cares that they're reading a fantasy tale, as long as they obviously and eagerly READING!" The criticisms from narrow-minded people continued, but the HP phenomenon had taken off, so it didn't matter anymore.


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