Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter Exhibit in the Works

rowlingDid I call it or did I call it? J.K. Rowling et al keep finding ways to make Harry Potter relevant. According to Entertainment Weekly, a new Harry Potter exhibit will open next year at the British Library.

The exhibit will commemorate the 20th — can you believe it?? Yes, I said 20TH! — anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book of the Harry Potter series (aka Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S.). The exhibit will include things from J.K. Rowling’s archives and other goodies from British publisher Bloomsbury. The exhibit will be open October 20, 2017 until February 28, 2018.

All of this comes with the news that the latest addition to Harry Potter‘s universe, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, has sold more than three million copies.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

harry-potter-cursed-child-poster**Spoiler Alert: This review does contain spoilers about the latest edition and all books included in the Harry Potter series.

Contributed by: Sam Sloan, friend and high school English teacher

1. First of all, the obvious, what did you think? How did the feel of the play compare to the Harry Potter novels?

Having only read each Harry Potter novel once, reading the play gave me flashbacks of sitting down with the fifth novel. I had swallowed up the first four novels in late middle/early high school. I have a clear memory of taking the fifth one from my sister’s bedroom and giddily running off to my room to start it, excited to be reunited with old friends and to see how life would be after the horrors of the Triwizard Cup.

When I read the play, I felt my old friends had, like me, had gotten older but maybe not any wiser. They had some of the same problems with adulting that I have– despite having saved the world, Harry still struggles with doing what’s right and facing his past and adolescent children who struggle beneath the shadow his celebrity casts upon them. (I haven’t saved the world, but isn’t that the secret dream of any high school English teacher?)

Unlike the novels, the play forced me to stop and actually imagine a stage upon which this action would take place. Reading the novels allowed me to totally immerse myself in a make-believe world of dragons and Quidditch. This was a little different, as I had to imagine what this would look like on a Muggle stage.

2. What was it like reading Harry Potter in play format? How did the format affect or not affect the story?

Personally, I like reading plays because the stage directions are more than just adverbs that describe how a character should deliver a certain line. A narrator that is actively a part of the play gives the audience information about why something is happening, and the stage directions provide a reader with insight and background information that the reader might not necessarily receive through the delivery of lines. When the reader gets to read this, it helps to better create those characters on that stage in their minds.

3. Did you have a favorite new character?

Scorpius Malfoy. He’s self-aware: he knows the rumors about him, but he also knows that his parents didn’t want to raise him the way Lucius raised Draco. His mother is a tender character, who obviously enhanced his sensitivity and ability to tune out gossip. His innocence and desire for a friend melted my icy Slytherin heart. And he also validated my love for Slytherins. Scorpius is so the opposite of his father when Draco was a child and is such a good contrast to the moody, resentful Albus.

His crush on Rose and his desire to make sure that he and Albus didn’t create a Rose-less world was heart-warming. It’s nice to see that Draco and Astoria Malfoy raised their son to be the opposite of Draco or his horrible little friends. Not all Slytherins are jerks, and Scorpius proves that.

4. What was different from the books? (You mentioned some changes with the magic itself and also the inclusion — or lack thereof — of certain characters.) Did you like these changes? Was there a reason you think they were made?

Being that I only read the books once, a lot of the magic rules were foggy in my mind. I remember that Hermione had a time-turner in the third book to help with her class load, but I didn’t remember the parameters of using a time-turner. I did a quick Google search to refresh my memory (big shout out to the Harry Potter Wiki page).

Whether or not the “rules” of some of the magic were followed to a T is hard for me to say, but the magic served its purpose for the means of a play.

One thing that irked me was that Neville was frequently spoken about between the characters but didn’t make an appearance. Thanks to the time-turning, Harry’s dreams, and the talking paintings of the magic world, the reader was reacquainted with Snape, Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Cedric, but not Neville.

Neville spent his whole childhood being put down by his peers and even his own grandmother, but he played a crucial role in Voldemort’s defeat. He easily could’ve been included. Disappointing, to say the least, because I consider him as heroic as Harry, Hermione, and Ron. It was as if he were still being picked on.

Also surprisingly left out was Luna Lovegood. The big difference between her omission and Neville’s is that she was not even mentioned by other characters in passing. She was good enough for Harry and Ginny to name theirdaughter after her, but not good enough to include in the play? Hmph.

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It was nice to have an additional story, but it wasn’t necessary. I really did like the way the series ended. Good triumphed over evil. For the first time in his life Harry Potter was as close to normal as he could ever be. Ron and Hermione wound up together (despite me not being able to understand how the lovable Ron tolerated her know-it- all, sometimes obnoxious attitude). Draco Malfoy learned the difference between doing what’s right and doing what’s popular. I like that ending!

But like I said, it was like visiting old friends. I liked being able to hear Snape’s voice in my head again. I felt a crushing sadness when Harry spoke to the painting of Dumbledore about being a father. It was wonderful to be in that world again. But I didn’t need to be. The novels can stand the test of time through their themes of friendship, generosity, and tolerance; the play emphasizes and reminds the reader of those themes, but Potter fans likely haven’t forgotten them.

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J.K. Rowling Announces End of Harry Potter’s Story After Record-Breaking Manuscript Book Released

rowlingIt’s the end of an era. For real this time. Allegedly. Best-selling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has announced Harry Potter’s story is done, after the release of the latest Potter installment Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 

Cursed Child is the script of a play created by Rowling that’s currently being performed in London. The play follows Harry, his friends and his son 19 years after the final Harry Potter book. According to Entertainment WeeklyRowling spoke Saturday night at the London premiere of Cursed Child, and that’s when she told the audience that Harry  “goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done.”

Cursed Child, the script, was released just yesterday, but was already breaking records before that, according to Entertainment Weekly. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble announced the book topped their bestsellers list, making it likely to be the bestselling book of 2016 and easily the most pre-ordered book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007.

So is it really the end of Harry Potter? Doubtful, I’d say. J.K. Rowling has told us she was done with Harry Potter after the last book was released in 2007, and then she went on to create the web site Pottermore, and soon after that came a play, its manuscript and another movie based on a spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, due to be released in theaters November 18, 2016. J.K. Rowling not only created Harry Potter, but she also created an entire fantastical world for children, and the amount of stories that can come from that world are unlimited.

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More ‘Harry Potter’ Adult Coloring Books Set to Debut

harry-potter-coloring-booksAh yes, the adult coloring book craze continues. I, myself, have been searching stores high and low for the perfect adult coloring book, and haven’t been able to find one. They generally consist of intricate designs that may be fun and relaxing to color, but don’t necessarily form anything exciting in the end. For me, that’s simply will not do. But someone heard my prayers — and apparently I’ve just been looking in the wrong places.

According to Hypable, five official Harry Potter coloring books will by out by this summer. Two have already been released. The first is a number one bestseller on Amazon. Just last month, yet another was released — this one based on magical creatures from the Harry Potter series.

Scholastic has more planned, including Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Coloring Book and Harry Potter Postcard Coloring Book, which are set to be released in March and Harry Potter Artifacts Coloring Book, set for a June release.

It makes complete sense that the pop culture-oriented coloring books are selling the most. After all, they have pictures of characters and settings with which people are familiar. Not to mention, this is a brilliant way for J.K. Rowling to expand on her ever-growing Potter empire. It’s both crazy and amazing how much she continues to churn out in the way of books, coloring books and movies, even though the actual story of Harry Potter is done. Allegedly.

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RIP Alan Rickman, the Man Who Brought Severus Snape to Life

severus-snape-in-alan-rickman-s-own-words-is-one-of-the-most-heart-felt-tributes-you-will-429332Just four days after the birthday of the character he became famous for playing, British actor Alan Rickman has died of cancer at the age of 69.

Rickman is known for his roles in many movies, including Die Hard, Robin Hood, and Love Actually, but for most millennials, he’s probably best known for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, which is why for many other 20-somethings and myself, hearing the news of his death this morning came as a complete — and painful — shock.

Rickman’s portrayal of Snape was much more than just a role acted out on screen. It was the personification of a character that is so meaningful to children and literature. Snape was the first character I loved to hate. He teaches children the complexity of adulthood and shows how childhood affects who you become as an adult. Snape represents the idea that people aren’t always who they seem and that there is inherent good and evil in all of us. Rickman excelled at bringing this complexity to the screen and emotion to our hearts.

The entire Harry Potter series is nostalgic for many of us, who have either read the books, seen the movies or both. The death of an actor who is so representative of a beloved character makes it feel like part of my childhood ended today. But there is also some tragic beauty that comes with the thought that Rickman has possibly met Snape in his death.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted about Rickman’s death today, but several years ago when the Potter films were completed, Rickman wrote a letter for Empire Magazine, in which he wrote this about Rowling: “It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller.” The same could be said for Rickman — another storyteller in his own right. Thank you, Alan Rickman. And Severus Snape. Always.

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J.K. Rowling Plans to Pen More Novels

Apparently J.K. Rowling is going through a midlife crisis. The crisis at hand? That she won’t have the opportunity to write all the stories she wants to write.

According to TimeHarry Potter author Rowling has many more stories up her sleeve, ready to be written into novels and children’s books. “Novels in the plural, I have so many ideas. I have an idea for a children’s book. I have written part of a children’s book that I really love so I am definitely going to finish that,” said Rowling.

Already in the works are her play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, screenplay and Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and her third Cormoran Strike novel under the Robert Galbraith pen name, Career of Evil. 

All that she’s done since the Harry Potter series ended is pretty remarkable, especially since most considered her to be such a flash in the plan with the series. Hopefully the new projects in progress are completed soon!

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New ‘Harry Potter’ E-Books To Have Animated Illustrations

It’s been eight years since the last Harry Potter novel was released, but now they’re all being released in a completely new way. Harry Potter e-books are now available, and according to The Associated Press, Apple has exclusive animated versions.

Enhanced e-book versions of the novels, exclusively for Apple products, includes more than 200 illustrations, many of which are animated or interactive. Other, non-animated versions of the e-books are available through author J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site.

Included in the enhanced e-books are author annotations similar to the ones Rowling’s written and included on her Pottermore web site, but there aren’t as many in the e-books as there are on Pottermore. The enhanced e-books also don’t include audio.

However, the illustrations are in full color, and the interactive illustrations are hidden; readers have to figure out what’s interactive for themselves. One example: during a scene at a meal, you can swipe to see all the food on other parts of the table.

The e-books cost $10 apiece, or $70 for the whole series.

As a kid, I read the paperback versions, but when I read the series to my eventual children, it certainly seems like the e-books are the version my kids will get to know.

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Miniseries vs. Book: The Casual Vacancy

Upon finally getting around to reading The Casual Vacancy (aka the first book J.K. Rowling wrote after the Harry Potter series ended), I had so many thoughts and feelings. Primarily: this book is a lot better than I expected it to be, based on what I’d heard and the criticism I’d read. Also: I can’t wait to see how this is adapted for the screen in the BBC miniseries of the same name.

The story revolves around the residents of a small British village called Pagford. Barry Fairbrother, a member of the village’s council, is a friend to everyone and a general do-gooder. But when he suddenly, tragically dies, the casual vacancy on the council becomes a not-so-casual vacancy for the rest of town.

With each section of the book, more and more characters unravel as Howard and Shirley Mollison’s son, Miles, prepares to run for Fairbrother’s seat — as well as Simon Price and Colin Wall. But each person running has their own secrets — secrets which are subsequently spilled online, posted anonymously by their very own children, who happen to despise them.

There are far too many characters to name, too many relationships to get into and too many domino-effect casualties to mention. But I enjoyed it. As she did in the Harry Potter novels, Rowling continued her theme of children vs. adults (and the children generally winning). Plus, the interconnectedness of the characters reminded me of other stories that stem from the British mainland (Love Actually, anyone?). In the end, the best characters were crushed.

A lot was changed for the TV adaptation. Those who disliked the book will likely tell you the series was far superior. Those who were fans of the book will tell you the series was awful. I’m here to tell you the series wasn’t awful but it was far less grim than the novel.

The novel is dark and twisty, much like the end of the Harry Potter series. I thought each character was an awful person, and the end was truly tragic and morbid. That, I believe, is the reason that producers made the series less severe. Of the two deaths at the end of the novel, only one dies in the show. I suppose all that death would have been too much for the average viewer.

Most of the other changes were due to time restrictions, I’m sure. The series was three hours, but certainly could have used a fourth. I was upset that one of the book’s characters was left out entirely and that some of the big “meeting” and “party” scenes were combined. The series also added extra relationships between characters. For example, Barry Fairbrother was an uncle to some of the kids in the show and a half-brother to another character. These relationships were never established in the book.

On some level, both the series and novel may seem as though they have no “point.” But it seems to me that any vacancy is anything but casual, and that’s what should keep readers and viewers on their toes.

Get The Casual Vacancy in paperback for $14.23.

Or get it on your Kindle for $8.99.

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J.K. Rowling/”Robert Galbraith” To Release New Detective Novel in Series

Another detective novel from bestselling author Robert Galbraith (reminder: the pen name for bestselling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling) is on the way.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the next Cormoran Strike novel is due to be released this fall. The novel is the third in the detective series, following The Cuckoo’s Calling in 2013 and The Silkworm in 2014. The third novel is titled Career of Evil, and an official date has not yet been released.

Rowling planned to release a total of seven novels in the detective series, similar to the Harry Potter series. As previously reported, the books are also being adapted into a TV series.

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‘Casual Vacancy’ Lingerie Shop Causing Controversy

It wasn’t too long ago that I reported J.K. Rowling’s first adult book, The Casual Vacancy, was being adapted into a BBC miniseries, set to air in the U.S. in the next few months. It seems that the miniseries is now causing a bit of an uproar in a small English town.

According to Entertainment Weekly, a lingerie shop was built for the set of The Casual Vacancy in Painswick. The Casual Vacancy centers around a parish council, and now people in the village of Painswick are making complaints to their actual parish council about the lingerie shop, as Megan Daley explains:

“They complained about it at the local parish council meeting,” the show’s director, Jonny Campbell, told The Telegraph at a screening of the first episode at BAFTA. “They said it was a disgrace on the one hand, but on the other a couple of little old ladies with white hair came walking past, looking in the window, and said ‘we’ve already got all that stuff.’

Not going to lie…kind of love this story.

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