Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Queries and Conundrums: The Harry Potter Depression

Harry Potter books

We all remember that feeling . . . we finished the last page of Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows . . . and dual emotions of elation and depression filled our hearts.  After devoting countless hours and for some of us, many years of waiting, the story had finally come to an end.  I remember how I felt and then relived it when my own children finished the series.  Now true fans are well aware of the impending release of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, but there really is nothing like the original.

A few months ago, a friend asked me for suggestions for her own 5th grade daughter who had just completed the series.  She too was feeling a sense of depression and loss as to what she could read next.  I can well relate to that feeling of “what could I possibly read, that might be even half as good, as what I finished.”

I think with the Harry Potter books in particular, it is important to look at what attracts a reader to the story and appeals to the reader’s interest.  So, I started to think about what makes the Harry Potter books so engaging and what other books might appeal to those aspects of the story.

Magic
The first appeal for me was the magic.  J.K. Rowling incorporates magic into her stories with clarity and purpose.  The magic is grounded in reality and she has not just created a world where magic exists, but also where it blends almost seamlessly with the real world that we know.  Magic has specific and unique purposes for communication, transportation, education, and all other facets of the modern world.

One of my favorite books that incorporates magic is the Castle Glower series, starting with Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George.  These books tell the story of a magical castle that rearranges, adapts, moves, and deletes rooms in the castle, depending upon who is visiting and what is needed.  When the castle is ambushed, it, along with the Princess Celie, must protect the royal family and save the kingdom.  The adventures continue in subsequent books: Wednesdays in the Tower and Thursdays with the Crown.

World Building
Very few authors can create a new world as complex and all-encompassing as J.R.R. Tolkien and Rowling doesn’t try to do that.  Her creation of a magic world is one that is believable and yet fits into the universal truths of reality.  She doesn’t contradict what is known but instead melds the two worlds.  Perfect example is the access to Platform 9 ¾ or how a telephone booth is the entrance to the Ministry of Magic.

Another author who I think does a great job at this is Rick Riordan with his blending of the mythological world with the real world.  I am a big fan of the Percy Jackson series, but I almost think that the three books of the Kane Chronicles series about Egyptian mythology do an even better job at this.  The description of the world of the pharaohs and the creation of the House of Life magicians is based on the mythology but Riordan makes it come to life and gives this world a personification of its own.

The Golden Trio
I certainly didn’t coin this word but I think it is a great description of the bond between the three main characters and the story that is told through their growth and development.  Certainly not a new concept in literature, think Scout, Jem, and Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird or Nancy, Beth, and George in the Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Golden Trio can manifest itself in a variety of gender and age combinations and take different forms, but the primary story revolves around the friendship, conflicts, and evolution of these characters.

One of my favorite Golden Trios — that isn’t in the Percy Jackson books or the Rangers Apprentice series — is from Michael Spradlin’s Youngest Templar Series.  The characters of Tristan, Robard, and Maryam aren’t initially friends, but learn to rely on and trust one another through the progression of the story.  Another fun Golden Trio is Seymour, the young boy; Mr. Grumply, the cantankerous writer; and Olive, the ghost, from the 43 Old Cemetery Road series by Kate Klise.

A Satisfying Conclusion
Even with the impending release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the multitude of fan fiction that has been written, the last Harry Potter book ends with a sense of closure and completion.  The questions are answered, the conflicts are resolved, and although the reader knows that the characters will go on and do more amazing things in their future, he feels at peace with the end.  I know that I have read many, many books that have left me dissatisfied with the conclusion.  I wanted more questions answered or more loose ends tied up; ultimately, I want to know that the characters are going to “all right.”  J.K. Rowling does this at the end of the series.  I do think that it is notable that she has stated in numerous interviews that she had the last scene written very early on in her writing process.  Many writers allow the characters and stories to take them where they want to go, but don’t always have a clear end in mind.  As a reader, I like a clean finish.

Michael Spradlin’s Youngest Templar Trilogy has a very satisfying and clear ending.  Another trilogy that finishes smoothly is Jennifer Holm’s Boston Jane books; the character arc follows the standard rising action – conflict – falling action pattern, but does so with great description and warmth.  The reader enjoys the character and feels vested in her successful outcome.  One of my favorite books as a child, The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene dubois, also succinctly finishes a multi-dimensional story with a pleasing end.

 

So, what common appeals do you find in the books that you read, and do you look for those in other books that you seek out?

 

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Four FAVORITE LIBRARIES FROM FILM on Friday

Libraries

Four FAVORITE LIBRARIES FROM FILM on Friday
Last night at dinner, I was talking with my family about different topic ideas for my FOUR ON FRIDAY blog feature.  After tossing around a number of different options, we focused in on favorite libraries in movies.  A lively discussion ensued as we shared ideas and favorites.  Of course, then we had to go online and comment (and criticize!) ones that were listed there. 

There are a lot of good library scenes in movies, but I decided to base my criteria for personal favorites on two things:  the importance of the library to the plot and the sheer awesomeness of the library itself.  The Beast’s personal library is Beauty and the Beast, the Library of Congress in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and the New York Public Library in Ghostbusters are all great library scenes and worth mentioning, but the following are my personal favorites.

The Venice Library in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
X never marks the spot, but in this movie, it did!  The Venice Library serves as a beautiful setting in the first part of this classic movie as Indy, Dr. Elsa Schneider, and Marcus Brody search for the Knight’s Tomb.  The plot point is essential as it leads Indy to find more clues to discover the secret location of the Holy Grail.  The library setting is breath-taking as the setting sun shines through the stained glass window.  The stone columns and dusty light create an almost ancient feel, which I am sure is what the director was going for.  Who could forget the metal spiral staircase that Indy races up as he discovers the spot marked X.

The scene was shot at the Biblioteca di San Barnaba, a library on the Piazza San Marco in Venice, and had originally been a medieval church.  It also was built over the site of a monastery that housed monks who helped to build the catacombs under the city, and the ones that Indy and Elsa explore.  I have always loved the idea of a mysterious tunnel buried under a library.  I think it appeals to my romantic sense of how libraries truly are entrances to new worlds.

River City Library in The Music Man.
What a fun scene in a great musical!  Professor Harold Hill dances around and is “shushed” by all the patrons in the River City Library as he attempts to woe Marian the Librarian.  The contrast between Hill’s larger-than-life salesman persona and Marian’s quieter, studious temperament is a major conflict throughout the musical, and it is the breaking down of the defenses between the characters that moves the plot along to its most climactic moment.  The Library scene highlights these two opposite personalities.

The River City Library is a classic old, small town library that reminds me a lot of the original library (before the modern new one was built) in my hometown.  The spiral staircases, the dumbwaiter, long library tables, the giant dictionary on a pedestal, and card catalog all hearken back to a simpler time.  I miss the old library cards and stamping of the date on the books, and of course, Marian, with her glasses and hair bun, is the stereotype of a librarian.  Best line is when Marian asks if Harold Hill is ready to check out and he responds that he wants to “take out the librarian!”

In the Library in Clue
As you know, I am a huge mystery buff, so of course, I love the game and movie Clue.  It is in the library that the primary cast of characters decides to split up and search the house, which leads to some of the funnies chase sequences in film.  I love the whiskey poured from the decanter into the cut glass highballs and the leaded glass doors on some of the shelves.

Once again, it evokes a different time in history and culture.  A less grandiose library than in some other films, the Clue library is iconic to all:  Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick!

Hogwarts Library in Harry Potter
I had to save my favorite for last, and I couldn’t pick just one film, so I included all of them.  So many classic and climactic scenes occur in the Hogwarts Library: the adventure in The Restricted Section, the discovery of Nicholas Flamel, the proclamation of “I am the Chosen One,” the recipe for the Polyjuice Potion, and Hagrid’s dragon research.

The Hogwarts Library is exactly what I envisioned when reading the books, with huge expansive columns, floor to ceiling shelves filled with books, tall windows with leaded glass, and hidden nooks and alcoves.  Truly it is a place to get lost and be lost.  I think my personal favorite library scene, though simple, is in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Harry and Hermione are talking about who they are taking to Slughorn’s Party, as Hermione is shelving the books.  She holds the books up and magically they shelve themselves!  I love the mystical and magic feel of the books returning to their homes after sharing their own reading adventures.

So, I know that I have missed a lot and my movie viewing is fairly focused; what other favorite Library scenes from film are out there?