Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harry Potter through the Ages

Phase 1: Circa 1999? Not sure of the exact mother-in-law persuades me to try a Harry Potter book at last (being all the rage in the UK)--I'm not interested in fantasy and am not convinced I would like it. But wham! I am sucked in immediately and get hooked--read all of the books available at that time (I think only the first two at that stage).

Phase 2: We begin reading all of the books with Chris.

Phase 3: Everywhere he goes, Chris is told that he looks like Harry Potter. Then he gets whacked on the forehead by an errant wooden racquet...and ends up with his first trip to the emergency room and a scar on his forehead!

Chris dresses up as the great boy wizard on Halloween:

Although I don't think Harry himself ever looked quite that happy!

Once JK Rowling hits it really big in the U.S., we begin ordering each book so it arrives on the day of release--delivered first thing in the morning. Very exciting! Initially we try to read it as a family, but soon Mike and I begin sneaking ahead (bad parents!).

Phase 4: Years later--2007--Chris and Mike attend their first midnight book release party at Annie Bloom's Bookstore for the final book--and Chris wins a t-shirt! The next morning, bright and early, we leave for Hawaii.

Chris and his friend Garen at the party

While in Hawaii, we all try to read the book at once--but fortunately my colleague Lisa is there at the same time, and she'd finished her book! So Mike and I stay up late at night reading obsessively!! (One of these days I must go back and reread it because I can't remember a whole lot.)

Posing in Hawaii with prized Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Phase 5: Kieran gets bitten by the Harry Potter bug. We (mostly Mike) begin reading the books to him, and he doesn't want to stop between books...doesn't get scared by any of the heavy stuff and positively soaks up the adventures. He flies through all seven books one at a time. We let him watch the associated movies after he's heard each book.

Thus begins the beginning of Kieran's impersonation of Harry Potter...which still continues to this day. He crafts wands, broomsticks, potions, and snitches, and casts constant spells. (Although I have forbidden him from using the Avadra Kevadra curse on his brothers, explaining that it's like pointing a pretend gun at them.)

Nicholas as Voldemort--he has no idea what it means, but he likes to pretend to be "the dark lord"!

Kieran with the broomstick he made by tying a bunch of long pine needles together and tying them to the end of a stick!

Recent HP adventures at our house include Kieran mixing up potions in the living room WITH FOOD COLORING no less (by the time Mike noticed that wasn't such a great idea, the Persian carpet had yellow stains on it--anyone know how to get them out?). He is determined to procure a real cauldron (he has a plastic one). Kieran has drawn "the dark mark" on Nicholas' arm, and they frequently have red lightning marks on their foreheads. Yesterday morning Kieran was giving Nick wand lessons (every stick in the yard or chopstick in the kitchen is a wand): "Swish and flick!" Nicholas made up a spell yesterday to cheer Kieran up. 10 minutes later, I found myself yelling "Wands are not for hitting!"

More dressup

On Tuesday the four of us went to see the latest Harry Potter film. I hoped we weren't doing the wrong thing, because those movies are quite a bit more intense in the cinema than they are on the little screen. But Kieran was fine. I did have to cover his eyes during some previews--there's a movie coming out called "2012" that looks like some kind of armageddon flick. The images were upsetting for ME to look at...and I thought them too much for a 6-year-old. Of course, children even younger than Kieran were in the the past, I must admit to some horror at seeing how parents take their very young children to VERY inappropriate films.

We enjoyed the film, and yes, I cried. They left a lot of pieces out, and they added in a few scenes that weren't really necessary. Overall, we'd give it two thumbs up. Book 6 is my least-favorite book of all of them. I have to say that Jim Broadbent really brought Horace Slughorn to life. I was underwhelmed by him in the book (especially after colorful Dolores Umbridge), although Mike thought he was a highly memorable character (apparently he knew social-climbing teachers similar to Slughorn, being at an English boarding school).

The chemistry between Harry and Ginny seemed to be lacking, as it was in the book. Ginny, however, did come across as a slightly stronger character in the movie than she did in the book.

I am ambivalent about the decision to split Book 7 into two movies. On one hand, they will be able to include more detail from the book, but on the other hand, it will be hard to stop at the end of the first movie. And we have to wait 2 more years until the saga is finally ended on film!
For now, I think I will go back and reread the books so I can remember more about them. (Chris has started rereading Book 6 after having seen the movie.) And then I'm sure we will read them all over again when Nicholas becomes old enough! Onward, Phase 6!


  1. Do you know, I have only seen the first movie. I think I was so devoted to the books that the movies just couldn't measure up. Although I love all the actors in them, the main characters plus the various actors who play professors and such. Did you know that Hugh Grant was originally going to be Gilderoy Lockhart? Perhaps if that had happened I would have been more enthusiastically rushing to the movies! :)

  2. I cannot believe you only saw the first movie!!! I know you are devoted to the books, but I'm surprised you didn't see the films just to form an opinion. Yes, they have amazing actors. Was the first movie so disappointing that you couldn't bear to see any more?

    Mike and I cannot imagine Hugh Grant as Gilderoy Lockhart--he doesn't fit the part. Kenneth Branagh, another of my favorites, was perfect for the role.

    Onto Netflix you go to get out the movies!! :)

  3. I think I like the notion of putting the dark mark on the little brother the best!