I’m about to finish reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban aloud to the kids tonight.
The kids and I have just loved going through these books. Today they were “playing Harry Potter”, running around shouting “Expelliarmis!” There’s something deeply engrossing about these stories and these characters. Being something of a reverse-engineer when it comes to reading (heh heh), I’ve been trying to figure out what that is.
First: Ordinary kids. Harry is an orphan with a mean family. Ron is poor. Hermione is a know-it-all. Normal people with hugely relatable problems.
Second: Fun. Tons of fun, and funny situations. When Lupin shot the wad of gum up Peeves’s nose, they all giggled. Same with when the Maurader’s Map “expressed surprise that an idiot like [Snape] ever became a professor.”
Third: Quidditch. My son told me that the Quidditch chapters were his very favorites in all the books. And I have to say, I love them, too. And I’m not really into sports.
Fourth: The mystery. This series is mystery disguised as fantasy. Because of the way she plants the clues and builds the suspense, it’s that trickle of dopamine in your brain that keeps you reading, thirsty for that next hit. Every time you get another clue or a reveal, bam! Dopamine.
Fifth: Magical creatures. Every book features some new, strange creature that is benign (except for the blast-ended skrewts).
The world is fantastic, and the characters–the adults, the kids–never fall into stereotypes. Just when you think you have McGonagall pegged, she buys Harry a broomstick.
The whole series is this perfect storm of wonderful. I only hope that one day, I can write something so lovely.