You may remember me blogging about the Harry Potter books and telling you how I read them all out loud to my wife (see “Life after Harry, part 1”). Ever since then, I have looked forward to the day I could share these books with my daughters. And now that time has come… at least for Daughter #1.
Nykita is now nine years old. Despite repeated offers to read her the books over the last couple of years, she has been rather disinterested. Things changed when her class started to read the first book during fruit breaks at school. Suddenly she was interested. But they were going too slowly, with a half chapter a day, at most — often reading as little as a page or two, and sometimes nothing at all because things got too busy. Suddenly, the prospect of me reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to her didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
And so I read her the book. She was so interested and so excited by it that we ended up flying through it in just over a week. “I didn’t think it would be my kind of book,” she told me one evening. “But I was wrong. It’s great!”
They are still only about a quarter of the way through in her class. But she’s enjoying it all over again.
Having finished that first book, we followed it up with the film. Verdict: “It was okay.” It seems that she preferred the book. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that she is now re-reading it herself.
Reading it again after all these years has been an interesting experience for me. I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed it — the characters, the concepts, the world and the plot, which is very much a set-up for the epic events to follow. But the flaws also stood out. The rather unbalanced deduction of house points for instance, with more points being taken off for a nocturnal wander than for an attempt to confront a troll (the latter putting lives in danger). And then there is that rather ridiculous detention where students are sent out into the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid on a dangerous mission — a rather irresponsible thing to do to the students, especially since it was established earlier that the forest was strictly off limits to students. And then to make matters worse, in the middle of the dangerous environment, Hagrid makes them split up. It is completely out of character for Hagrid to put the students into such enormous danger.
But this was JK’s first novel, and given how good the rest of it is, I’m will to cut her a little slack on these points. 🙂
It was also interesting to watch the film version immediately upon finishing the book. This proximity highlights the film’s weaknesses — the nuances it leaves out and how poorly it depicts the passage of time. But then the film also adds many interesting visual elements — the delivery of Harry’s initial letters at the Dursley’s by owls; the way Voldemort passes through Harry in the climactic moments. These things, dare I say, actually improve on the original source material. And this film is also so perfectly cast — not just the main characters, but the minor ones like Argus Filch.
Nykita and I have now begun Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I’ll report back when we’ve finished.
Catch ya later, George
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