J.K. Rowling,
Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone

(Arthur A. Levine, 1998)

Harry Potter, the engaging hero of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, has lived most of his life in the home of his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon Dursley and their dreadful son, Dudley.

Forced to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, enduring Dudley's constant torments, Harry feels very alone and miserable until a special letter arrives, right around his 11th birthday. Before he knows it, he's on his way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to follow in his late parents', err, broomstick path.

School is more wonderful than he could have imagined. Harry finds he has a knack for Quidditch -- the school sport played on broomstick -- the food is wonderful, and best of all, he has friends: loyal Ron Weasley, smart and bossy Hermione Granger, the timid but stalwart Neville Longbottom, and Hagrid, the tenderhearted giant gamekeeper.

But Hogwarts is hiding a carefully guarded secret, and someone at the school is willing to go to any lengths to discover it. Harry and his friends are drawn into the adventure that becomes a fight for Harry's life. It seems that a nemesis from Harry's past has emerged: the evil wizard Voldemort. Can Harry save the Sorcerer's Stone? You'll have to read it yourself to find out.

I spent the better part of the morning sprawled on my stomach on the bed, reading this book. The story is engrossing and fast-paced, packed with deadpan and understated humor. I'm not surprised that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone sent me back to my childhood, because it contains all the elements of all my favorite books: magic and adventure shared by a group of likeable and appealing characters who behave like kids and not like miniature adults.

Although Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a children's book, don't confuse that with "childish" -- this title is anything but. It will appeal to anyone with imagination and spirit. Fortunately for those of us who read quickly, Rowling is planning more Harry Potter books: the second, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has just been published in the United States and the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is due out in the States in October 1999. I can hardly wait.

The book itself is a pleasure to read, with a heavy textured cover, substantial creamy pages and clear type. So get yourself a copy and some Chocolate Frogs or Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (mind the ear wax flavored ones), unplug the phone and enjoy.

So -- just what are you waiting for?

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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