Harry Potter

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Harry Potter is the hero of a series of novels written by J. K. Rowling. Harry is an orphan child who finds that he is a wizard. Potter then goes to Hogwarts, a boarding school for young wizards, and has many adventures there learning magic and using it to fight the forces of the evil Lord Voldemort who killed Potter's parents when he was an infant. Along the way, Potter learns about life and death and grapples with questions of morality and friendship. As of 2007, the series is projected to consist of seven novels, of which six have been published, with the seventh to be released in July of 2007.

The books have been fabulously successful, selling three hundred million copies, and Forbes estimates that they have made Rowling a billionnaire, the first billion-dollar author in history.[1] To date, five of them have been adapted for the movies.

The English "public" schools Hogwarts resembles are Protestant institutions; but at Hogwarts, chapel is conspicuously absent. A failure to mention Christianity, combined with the presence of wizardry, have led some to wonder whether Rowling is substituting paganism for Christianity. The books have even been accused of promoting witchcraft.[1] [2] [3] [4] Some evangelical Christians have attempted to ban the books in public schools[5].

In 2003, a Vatican representative said the books "aren't serving as the banner for an anti-Christian theology.... I don't think there's anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic, and angels in their imaginary world."[2]

Harry Potter has inspired hundreds of thousands of children across the globe to learn to love to read. The Harry Potter novels, particularly the later ones, are long. The 870 pages of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," even though printed in large type, contain 255,000 words—about twice as long as A Tale of Two Cities. The "Lexile" measure of reading level puts the series between 880L and 950L,[3] comparable to sixth-grade texts[4]

Some expect childrens' literature to present characters that are idealized role models, and to teach simple, explicit life lessons. However, like other classics of children's literature, the world of Harry Potter is one in which adult authority figures are complex, imperfect, and occasionally ludicrous (as they are in Alice in Wonderland.) Harry himself, while basically a "good" person, is sometimes petty-minded, jealous, or just plain mischievous (like Tom Sawyer, or Holden Caulfield). Although the students at Hogwarts take their studies seriously, they are not above cheating or goofing off, and some of their teachers are boring or outright incompetent.

On July 20, 2005, at [[Prime Minister's Questions], the Right Honourable Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time, joined the House of Commons in lauding J.K. Rowling for her contribution to the education of British young minds.

Series titles

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (original title as published in England: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (announced)

References

  1. J. K. Rowling And The Billion-Dollar Empire.
  2. Sink, Mindy (2003), "The Split Verdict on Harry Potter," The New York Times, March 8, 2003, p. B6; representative quoted is Rev. Don Peter Fleetwood, who "helped draft a Vatican document on New Age phenomena."
  3. For comparison: Charlotte's Web 680L, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 890L, Moby Dick 1200L
  4. The Lexile framework for reading.