Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling: 20 Years Old

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Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Author: JK Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 26th of June 1997 (first published) – 2017 marks 20 years

Format: Paperback

Pages: 223

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter “H”.

Harry Potter has never heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

An incredible adventure is about to begin!

~*~

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As 2017 marks twenty years since the world met Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, a bespectacled, messy haired eleven year old, I am celebrating with a series of posts, including a review of the first book.

At age one, Harry is sent to live with his awful relatives, the Dursleys, following the mysterious death of his parents, Lily and James Potter. Unbeknownst to him, they were murdered by a Dark Wizard, Lord Voldemort, whose ambition to take over the wizarding world was thwarted when he turned his wand onto Harry, and the Killing Curse bounced back onto Voldemort, sending him into an oblivion he longed to get out of.

Ten years later, Harry begins to receive mysterious letters in a parchment envelope, addressed in emerald green ink, pinpointing his exact location: the cupboard under the stairs, the smallest bedroom, and the hut on the rock, before he receives his letter when Rubeus Hagrid is sent to help. From here, Harry enters the Wizarding World, and is soon attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, despite his aunt and uncle’s attempts to stamp the magic out of him.

hp20_230Harry’s time at Hogwarts is not without troubles. He earns a spot on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, courtesy of his Head of House, Minvera McGonagall, earns an enemy because he chose Ron Weasley as a friend over Draco Malfoy, fights a Mountain Troll, and ventures into the Forbidden Forest for a detention when he is caught out of bed. All of this leads up to a battle between Harry and the person he never thought he’d face, or ever have to face beneath a trap door in the school, guarded by a three headed dog called Fluffy.

I enjoyed this book, and the rest of the series, and still have them on my shelf. A great series to read and re-read over and over again, it allows you to suspend belief and go to Hogwarts. As a start to a series, I found it well written, and each time I read it, there is something comforting about it and new to discover. For Harry, finding himself in a world where he has friends and is accepted and loved, even by people he has never met, like Molly Weasley, who steps in as a mother figure when he is lost at King’s Cross, it is a comfort to know he will never be alone, now that he has found Hogwarts. Filled with quirky characters and the beginning thharrypotterphilosp_2991278kreads of a mystery and plot that traverses seven books, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a great book for confident readers aged nine and older, including adults.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone opened the Wizarding World up to children and adults alike in 1997 across the world. Now twenty years old, it still endures as a favourite for many, and begins a series that becomes increasingly complex with each book. As Harry ages, the fans aged, and the darkness that threatened to engulf Harry’s world entered the books. The first book is light, with a few dark moments, but manages to get the balance right for a children’s book. It is a world of wonder but also a world where nothing is certain, and you learn to trust your friends.

The Harry Potter series is a favourite, and the first book is a nice introduction to the series. Harry got a new generation of children interested in reading, and that is a good thing.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by JK Rowling

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Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Author: J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy/Screenplay

Publisher: Little, Brown/Hachette

Published: 18/11/16

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 291

Price: $39.99

Synopsis: When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone . . .

Inspired by the original Hogwart’s textbook by Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original screenplay marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. A feat of imagination and featuring a cast of remarkable characters and magical creatures, this is epic adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition for any film lover or reader’s bookshelf.

The film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will have its theatrical release on 18th November 2016.

~*~

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them started life as a text book by magizoologist Newt Scamander, used by students at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. From that mention, it became a book for fans to buy, with the proceeds going to charity. Fifteen years later, a screenplay has been written for a movie, featuring the renowned (and fictional) Newt Scamander as he journeys to New York to continue his journey of discovery. However, his magical suitcase goes missing, and it is not long before things start to go wrong, and before MACUSA, the American equivalent of the Ministry for Magic, and No-Majs (Muggles), start to notice. One poor Muggle gets caught up, and it is up to him, Newt and two sisters to find the beasts and ensure the secrets of the wizarding world are kept a secret. Alongside this adventure is the subplot of the Second Salem group, trying to enforce their views and bring back a new age of witch hunting. Though it is just the screenplay of the film that was released on the same day, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is delightful, and it ties in nicely with the backstory to the Harry Potter novels, giving fans insight into the days of a text book author, how another nation viewed magic and dealt with secrecy, and also hinted at things to come with mention of a wizard who history told the wizarding world was dangerous, in the days before Voldemort attended Hogwarts and rose to become the most feared wizard within the world of Harry Potter.

Set in 1926, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a tight, well-told story that has the potential to continue on in further movies. I have not yet seen the movie, and do not feel that reading the screenplay first will ruin the experience for me when I am able to: it has given me a peek at the New York wizarding world, and some insight into the characters, but only a little, and the movie will only build on that. Reading a screenplay can be a little different to reading the book: as it is less descriptive, imagining the settings and characters takes a little more time than with a novel, however, if you know the actors in the movie, then knowing what to imagine is a little easier, and I have an idea of who to expect in the role.

Another great story of the wizarding world from JK Rowling; I look foward to seeing the movie.