Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Next Harry Potter Craze

I am an avid reader who generally ignores hype of any kind. I'd rather read a book because it won a Pulitzer Prize or because it was recommended by the staff of my favorite book store or a friend. So, I avoided the Harry Potter craze...for awhile.

When a copy of the first Harry Potter book was found in the front of the aforementioned favorite bookstore for a mere $3.00 (The English version is called "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"), it was just too cool to resist. So I resigned myself to just read the one book.

Then there is the rebellious streak that seems to flow throughout my family. As my sister stated, "When everyone said they were bad, evil books that shouldn't be read...well that just intrigued me to read them more." Of course, they are not bad, evil books. They are the classic "good versus evil" books. They are also incredibly well-written, well-thought out, and well-researched. Needless to say, I didn't stop at one book. I soon read each one - one right after another, until I had devoured them all.

On a recent road trip south, I was able to see the Harry Potter Exhibit in Chicago. In it, countless props, costumes, and replicas of rooms in the movies were displayed. It was cool to see Dumbledore's robes and Hermione's dress from the ball - as well as wands and other fun items seen in the movies. There were crowds for each showing.

Harry Potter fans are big fans indeed, but one group in particular has really taken it to another level. According to Newsweek, they've even started their own "Dumbledore's Army," or the "Potter Alliance," which does some wonderful charity work:
We are living in dark and difficult times, as Dumbledore says, and we have a choice between what is right and what is easy," says Andrew Slack, the founder of the real-life Dumbledore's Army, also known as the Harry Potter Alliance, which started in 2005 and counts more than 100,000 members across the globe. These Harry Potter-ites live by the motto "the weapon we have is love" (a.k.a., "Love is the most powerful form of magic," Slack says) and wear T shirts with the slogan WHAT WOULD DUMBLEDORE DO? Through blogs and YouTube videos, they've raised more than $15,000 in aid for Darfur and Burma and donated 14,000 books to children in need worldwide."

But the Harry Potter Alliance is peculiar to the world of fandom, because these people actually think they can use Harry Potter to make a difference in the world.

It is just one more example of the dedication of the fans...and yet another example of good work - and definitely not evil. The only people who say that about the series have not read any of the books.

As a writer I really admire J.K. Rowling. What has spun out of these books is unbelievable. She wrote these books while on welfare, nursing the same cup of coffee or tea each day. Her ability to carry the story through, keep the reader's attention, and develop interesting, likable characters is incredible. She is admirable and extremely talented. So, as the Harry Potter craze continues and the next movie opens tomorrow- I admit it. I too am a big fan.

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