Happy Birthday, Harry: Part One of our Harry Potter Read-Along
I'm FINALLY reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! Finally! I admit that I had started and stopped it many times, not because of poor writing, but because it starts slowly for someone who has already seen the films. (Plus I've been SPOILED by all the deaths per Mini Me when she read the whole series again and again and AGAIN at age 8.) But the whole reason I picked this book for our summer read-along is because I wanted to get through the first book so I can get to all the rest.
And I'm glad I did. The world building is fantastic right from the get-go.
And I know that sometimes writing has to be a bit formulaic, so there are countless other stories in which someone finds out they're something they never realized. As in, not only is Harry a wizard, he's one who is already well-known in the community. And, he's got money. I'm pretty sure there's a lost princess/lost prince story or two or a million like that. But, it makes sense.
Just as it makes sense for Harry to feel 'less-than' when he first meets Draco. Draco, who's raised to be a prejudiced, self-entitled, git. Yup, rivals from the start. (And, yeah....I can see why people ship them.) Harry has a rags-to-riches type story as well, though if I recall correctly, he ends up at home with the Dursleys during the summer. And Harry doesn't let his newfound money go to his head—I mean, he immediately he goes to buy a million sweets from the Honeyduke's cart on Hogwarts Express but he shares them happily with his new friend, Ron.
J.K. Rowling has some wonderful turn-of-phrases, as well scathing commentary on people like the Dursleys, who mistreat and abuse Harry up until Hagrid appears. It makes me quite sad as you wonder why they agreed to take him in if they were going to treat him so horribly. (And it makes me even sadder because you know this happens in real life.)
One of my favorite lines was one in which Harry questions the Dursley's imagination...because they don't believe in it. Rowling's descriptions and characterizations are spot-on. And when I really think about it, I have admiration for Harry who befriends two other 'underdogs', one a super smart and gifted Muggle born girl, and the other a boy from a long line of wizarding family (like Draco!) who still doesn't feel like he belongs. It's like she knew all along what this trio would become.
Speaking of Draco, Rowling establishes right away that Draco and his family are 'purists'. AKA racists with a superiority complex. This sets up right away a dynamic between him and Harry, who is used to being excluded and made fun of. And, who happens to befriend a Muggle-born himself. It would be too easy for Harry to be accepted as a wizard—he could have chosen to join Draco and his gang, but he chooses to stay true to himself.
Let's get back to Hogwarts Express and Platform 9 3/4. Of course I knew all about it from the movies, and from visiting the Warner Brothers Studio in London (Leavesden) where they filmed all the movies. But reading about it is something else, especially when I took note of Uncle Vernon helping Harry with his trunks, only because he cruelly believes that Harry will be stuck there since Platform 9 3/4 doesn't exist. Right?
Sigh. The sad part is that Uncle Vernon doesn't seem a caricature to me. He seems real.
So now Rowling has me definitely rooting for Harry. And the journey as she takes us to Hogwarts is definitely magical. From the moment that Harry steps onto Hogwarts Express and makes (arguably) his first friend (Hagrid may count first), I'm all in. BTW, I also pictured Gringotts like a roller coaster ride. I hope that if they ever expand at Universal Studios that they make some kind of Gringotts underground tunnel coaster ride. Complete with dragon, of course.
And then there's the boat journey to Hogwarts itself. I just want to experience it myself. Even if I'm no longer eleven years old. In fact, when we were at the WB Studio tour in London, I was completely wrapped up in the to-scale models in one room, while Mini Me began to tug me to the next.
"Mom, this is boring," she said.
I snapped back. I'm a mom of a teen (pre-teen with an old soul, she was four-going-on-sixteen and now twelve-going-on-sixteen or twenty-two) and I wasn't taking it. "You don't get to tell me what's interesting or not."
And then she brought me around the corner. Whereas I had been looking at a model of Hogwarts that was about five feet wide, the next room had a full scale model of the complete castle, with bridge, and, yes, the boats. It encompassed the whole room and the viewing platforms ran down in a ramp so that you could appreciate the work from every angle. I'm not good at dimensions but the full castle had to be as long as my (small) house. At least.
Now that I'm finally reading Harry Potter, I may have to go back to Universal Studios and see it with new eyes. I already was excited when I went with the girls for the first time several years ago. And I'd love to see it again now that we've visited the film sets at the Warner Brothers Studio. Truth be told, I wasn't as in awe as I thought I would be when I first walked into the film studio because the replicas at Universal Studios are so well done. But it was still really cool that we got to walk through the actual Great Hall, see Hagrid's hut, and look into the mirror of Erised, which happened to be near Ron and Harry's room and their tiny, tiny beds. BTW, I'm planning on writing a separate post about the WB Studio Tour complete with tips, hopefully to post next week.
And, in case you didn't know, Lego is releasing new HP sets. Several of them are out of stock, but the new Fantastic Beasts ones will be released tomorrow. Also, there is a new Hogwarts Castle one that will be released in September, complete with micro/mini figures, the chamber of secrets, moving staircases, and the aforementioned boats. It looks absolutely amazing and Mr. Bookworm and I are in agreement that we HAVE to get it. Despite our messy house. He seems to think that we'll just hold onto it until we clean up and/or buy our little cottage for the backyard. Little Lion is already dreaming of building it straight away. :D
[Pictures below are with book ends from Bespoke 3D Printing, and the Pop Funkos are pictured inside Harry Potter Hogwarts School: A Magical 3D Carousel Pop-Up. I believe it's out of print, but we were able to get a new one from Amazon several years ago.]
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Phew! To enter, comment on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone below. For a bonus entry, answer our contest questions. If you'd rather email me your answers or comments, please do so here.
Trivia Questions, Round One
- What year did Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone take place?
- . In what year was Hogwarts school founded?
- . What are the names of the four founders of Hogwarts?
- What is Moaning Myrtle's full name? (first, middle, last)
- . What are the House traits?
- Whose grave was Harry tied to when Voldemort was resurrected in Goblet of Fire?
- Which horcrux was hidden in Marvolo Gaunt's shack?
[You can tell which ones Mini Me asked, right?]