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Friday, March 16, 2012

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

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

Okay, here we go.  I finished the first of the series in one day.  It's a quick read.  For those of you that missed the boat, or express train I should say, here is a brief summary of the book.  Harry is an orphaned boy that is sent to live with his horrible aunt and uncle.  He isn't any old orphan though. His parents were wizards, something his normal (muggle) aunt and uncle find repulsive.  Because of this, he is treated horribly. He is either their slave or doesn't exist.  Sound familiar, Cinderella?  On his eleventh birthday, an ogre of a man, Hagrid, comes to tell Harry that he too is a wizard and has been accepted to the best wizarding school, Hogwarts.  This sends him on an adventure into a wizard world that coexists with the normal world.  It is full of goblins that run bank vaults deep into the earth, witches, wizards, ghosts, unicorns and centaurs.  Anyone getting a Narnia/Middle-Earth vibe yet?  Okay, okay back to the story. At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom.  Together they discover something hidden at Hogwarts that leads Harry to come face to face with the evil wizard that killed his parents, Voldemort.  I won't ruin any more for you.

So Rowling definitely has the whole Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings vibe going on.  There are elements of her story that you could say came from other stories we've heard before.  But I think what makes her storytelling so great is that, as Emma Watson once put it, it is complete.  She totally creates a new magical world down to the smallest details.  Wondering what type of money they use in the wizarding world?  Don't have to Rowling tells you.  Wonder what the kids eat for fun? Don't have to, Rowling tells you.  Wonder if they play sports?  Yep, she's got that covered to.  Everything a normal kid would do at that age is transformed into something fantastical and crazy.  Her book exudes the sounds, tastes, sights and even smells that Harry experienced.  She's an excellent writer for sure.

Now down to the nitty gritty.  There is a small amount of cursing in the book.  I actually plan on just scribbling them out with an ink pen. GASP!  I know I'll get hate mail for tampering with Rowling's work.  They aren't necessary to the story line and won't change a thing if they're gone.  There is a little bit of name calling, but nothing horrible and help you empathize with Harry.  Now for the whole witchcraft/wizardry thing.  The children at Hogwart's are mostly learning simple, nice tricks such as turning an animal into a cup or making a feather float.  Not unlike what we would see in Narnia.  The wizards in the book that do things like killing or putting a curse on another are almost always considered an evil wizard.  They've gone to the dark side of things  I don't think that this book is going to make a kid start pretending to put evil spells on their sibling.  They may, however, pretend to make a book move or act like they are flying on the Nimbus 2000 broomstick, but hey didn't we all jump of the couch and pretend to be Peter Pan at one point.  I think as long as the parents keep the kids in touch with the fact that this is just a story, they should be okay.

I don't really have a problem with the whole wizard thing in this particular book.  I do have a problem with the age level recommended for this book and here's why.  This book is recommended for ages 9- 12.  Now for this book, cursing aside (and blotted out), that's probably okay.  But remember that when Rowling first started writing these it was over a span of ten years.  So that 9- 12 year old was 19- 22 years old by the time the last book came out, which judging by the movies is a lot darker.  19- 22 is probably okay for this, but I don't think it is appropriate for a 9- 12 to be reading the final books.  Now I haven't gotten to read them yet, but for now this is what I think. So here's what I would say for this book, either space out letting your children read them year by year or let them read them when their a little older.  The later is probably the better choice since the books are already published and their going to keep pestering you to get it to find out what happens on Harry's next adventure.

Want to hear my book vs. movie review? Scroll past the stats.  Don't care what else I have to say?  End here.

RFMK Stats

Rating: * * * * *

Age Level:  13- adult

RMFK Stamp of Approval:  Yes, with a few strategically placed ink blots.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Book vs. Movie Challenge

It was interesting reading the book after I had seen all the movies.  I didn't know whether I would be surprised or disappointed.   I think in the end there was a little of both.  In some parts I was surprised by the book and disappointed by the movie and others surprised by the movie and disappointed by the book.  The director and cast did an amazing job at being true to the original words that Rowling wrote. I was actually surprised by how many lines from the movie come straight out of the book.  So many times they are changed and morphed into something sort of like the book, but not really.  Just like Rowling is so detailed in her descriptions of Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, so too is the movie.  I felt like the actors did justice to their characters, for the most part, although I find Hermione much less annoying in the book, Ron and Harry smarter, and Hagrid much more loveable.  There is only one thing that drives me absolutely insane now that I've read the book.   Harry is described as having bright green eyes in the book and in the movies their blue.  I mean really couldn't they have put some colored contacts in?  And worst of all Harry is described countless times as "having his mother's eyes."  Hello? Casting agent?  Didn't you realize that the actress that played Lily Potter, Harry's mum has BROWN eyes?!! And that his dad, James, actually has blue eyes- the same as Harry. It's all a lie!!  Okay back to reality and off of my soapbox.  This is the one big oops of the film I feel.  The movie however hardly misses a beat and there are really only two or three very minute things that are missed in the film from the book.  Because of this I'd say: MOVIE WINS. The book is still very good and will only enhance what you have already read, so don't just skip the book because of this; but if you do, you're not missing that much of the story.

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