When author J.K. Rowling had the idea for the ‘Harry Potter’ stories, she was on a delayed train from Manchester to London. She was very excited about her idea, and started outlining the plots almost straight away. However, what she didn’t know was, years later, that idea would turn into the bestselling series of books ever to be published.
But what causes us to love this young wizard so much? What are the reasons why his story has spread right across the world and reached so many different people?
While reading, we discover that J.K. Rowling not only describes what happens to one boy – a whole world is there waiting for us when we open the cover! It’s not just the Hogwarts students and teachers who come alive through the writing – each character, from the shopkeepers to the bus drivers, has his or her own life and personality – even if we don’t find out about them directly from Harry!
If you read closely, you can spot the magical background details, and notice how colourful and alive they are. For example, think about the scene in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ where Harry has his first conversation with Ron. Here we are introduced to many new and exciting things: frogs made of chocolate that can jump out of the window, jelly beans of any flavour you can think of, and even moving people in photographs!
However, it’s not only the extraordinary details that make the ‘Harry Potter’ series so unique. Some people say that they have learned a lot about British culture by reading the books. For example, a young girl from Germany said that when she read about the “Knight Bus” driving around London, she was amazed at the idea that a bus could have more than one level! She had never seen a bus like this in Germany, and was happy that one day, she might have the chance to see one if she visited Britain.
Did you know that Harry and his friends take important exams at the same time as British children (age fifteen or sixteen)? At age seventeen, young wizards can also take a test that allows them to “Apparate” (transport themselves from one place to another). This is the same age that British teenagers can learn to drive a car!
Humour and Good v Bad
Some say that the best kind of story can make you cry and laugh at the same time. Of course, those who make us laugh the most are the Weasley twins, Fred and George, who can make even the worst situations better for everyone. Even when George’s ear was destroyed by a curse, they couldn’t resist telling a joke about ears!
Fred and George prove that being able to laugh can be a very useful tool.
Other popular characters also demonstrate good qualities, such as Hermione’s hardworking nature, Harry’s bravery and Ron’s loyalty. Together, they fight against those who believe that power, greed and prejudice are the way forward. The series shows us some very real and universal issues that humans face, while keeping us entertained along the way!
Over to you!
What is your favourite kind of magic?
Do you identify with a particular character?
Do you like books that make you laugh?
Over to you! Reply to Hannah's questions in the box below.
And, finish this sentence: "Harry Potter is ..."