Fairytaledom has a new hero! Old favorites, Cinderella, Snow White and Jack (of the beanstalk fame) have made way for Harry Potter. Created by British author, J.K.Rowling, this boy wizard has cast a spell over readers of all ages worldwide. Lotions and potions, spells and charms, muggles and sorcerers are only some specimens of the strange world Harry lives in.
The world first met Harry in Rowling’s fantastic thriller, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which was published in 1997. The book, which won almost every Children’s book prize in England that year, has all the ingredients of a typical fairytale. Harry, the 11-year-old orphan boy-hero, lives with his relatives, the Dursleys. His life is a series of misfortunes. Unlike his parents, Harry’s uncle, aunt and cousin are “muggles” (non magic-people). They loathe Harry and make his life a misery. Harry knows nothing about his parents and their magical abilities. What he realizes, however, is that bizarre things happen when he gets angry. Being able to “talk” with snakes is only one of the many oddities he exhibits.
Harry’s world changes overnight when he receives an urgent summons from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry inviting him to study magic. Hagrid, a gentle giant from Hogwarts, plays fairy godmother to Harry and helps him out of his difficult situation. After overcoming stiff opposition from the Dursleys, Hagrid escorts Harry to Diagon Alley so he could buy supplies for the school year. The supplies include a magic wand. Hagrid tells Harry all about his parents. Harry learns that he was something of a legend among the wizard folk because he had survived a confrontation with the evil wizard, Voldemort. The lightning shaped scar on his forehead was a memento of this encounter.
On September 1st, the Dursleys drop Harry off at King’s Cross station, where he is supposed to board the Hogwarts Express from platform nine and three quarters. Harry makes two new friends en route to the school, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger. The real fun begins when the train reaches the magnificent castle that is Hogwarts. Thereafter, the slick and fast paced plot line takes us on an incredible journey into the world of magic.
I couldn’t help biting my nails in suspense when the sorting hat couldn’t make up its mind whether Harry belonged in Gryffindor or Slytherin House. I cheered when Harry became the star of his dormitory’s Quidditch team. I fell in love with Aldus Dumbledore, the head wizard, and couldn’t help but dislike Harry’s classmate, Draco Malfoy who seemed determined on making Harry’s life miserable. By the time Harry uncovered the intriguing mystery surrounding a powerful magical stone, and came face to face with his most dreaded enemy, Voldemort, I was well hooked.
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Rowling weaves a tangled web with her excellent story telling capabilities. The fast paced action and superb plotline not only holds the reader’s attention, but also manages to leave them yearning for more! It is no wonder, then, that the series of four books following this one are also bestsellers.