I resisted the Harry Potter series for years. My objections were never to questionable content, but my belief that there could not possibly be a new “classic” children’s book series. One night while up late channel surfing I came across an episode of A&E’s Biography about J.K. Rowling. I gave it a chance and was so impressed I went out and bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the next day… and read all four published books over the next week.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were worth rooting for every time. Rowling really won me over though with her rich descriptions and thoughtful side characters. These “extras” were numerous, but each served a purpose and served it well. That is quite a feat in a seven book series spanning thousands of pages.
It has been years since I reread the first in the series. Rowling managed to impress me all over again. Revisiting characters who grew and matured throughout seven books was a treat. The youthful innocence was refreshing. Ironically, it was like reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or any other of my childhood favorites again.
For this very reason, I am always disappointed, though not surprised, the series gets challenged and banned so often. A series about children passing between worlds and talking to magical creatures is okay if it is written by a self professed Christian and has religious overtones? A series about children who happen to have a gift, talk to magical creatures, are loyal friends and defenders of good is Satanic because they are magicians? It defies logic.
One scene which never fails to make me smile is at the very end of the book (spoiler alert) when Gryffindor is being awarded points after Harry’s encounter with Voldemort. The bravery of Harry, Hermione, and Ron allowed their struggling House Team to tie for first place. Then Dumbledore makes an unexpected announcement. “There are all kinds of courage… It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.”
Rowling wrote the scene so the one child who tried to prevent the three from breaking curfew and causing loss to their House Team would be the hero to his peers. What a horrible message to pass on indeed.