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Tuesday July 25 2:05 PM ET
Harry Potter Author to Be Feted Like Star in Toronto
By Leah Eichler
TORONTO (Reuters) - Call it Harry Potter and the Giant Stadium.
Children are lining up by the hundreds in Toronto for tickets to
hear an author read from a book at a venue usually reserved for
the Backstreet Boys and baseball players.
Sound unbelievable? Not if the author is J. K. Rowling, creator
of the worldwide publishing phenomenon, the Harry Potter book
The reclusive Rowling, who will read from her latest hit, ''Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire,'' will take center stage at
Toronto's cavernous SkyDome on October 24 as part of an annual
authors festival known to appeal more to the staid bookish set
than bubbling pre-teens.
``My mom told me last night when she kissed me good-night that
she was coming,'' nine-year-old Haley Hatch-Daniel said excitedly
as she stood in line at the stadium. ``I'm very excited.''
After reading the first three Potter books and is half-way
through Rowling's fourth novel, Hatch-Daniel said she was eager
to see the author in person: ``She writes very good books and
they are about very interesting things, like wizardry.''
``I love J. K. Rowling,'' enthused Vanessa Santirri, 12, as she
waited in line for tickets with her mother. In the middle of
``Goblet of Fire,'' Santirri said that at 640 pages long it was
the biggest book she has ever tried to read.
Organizers for the event, called Harbourfront's International
Festival of Authors, were at first apprehensive of booking the
55,000 seat stadium but were now certain they made the right
``I think it was quite exciting for her (Rowling) to think she's
going to be appealing to an audience as large as the Rolling
Stones gets,'' said Greg Gatenby, artistic director of the annual
Officials said on Tuesday more than 2,000 tickets have been sold
for the British author of the magical books that follows the
apprentice wizard, Harry Potter, and his battles with dark
``I think there are only two authors on the planet who would even
have a chance of filling half the SkyDome. One is J.D. Salinger
and the other is J.K. Rowling,'' Gatenby said.
Rowling, whose books have appeared in 39 languages and 200
countries, leaves a litany of broken rules in her wake, including
that boys nine to 12 don't read books. Rowling's speaking
engagement could also disprove conventional wisdom that children
don't show up for author readings.
``No one has ever done this before,'' Gatenby said. ``In terms of
purely, literary events, without any political attachment the
largest readings as far as I know have been here at (Toronto's)
Harbourfront, with 3,000 people.''
Gatenby orchestrated the event by appealing to Rowling through
her Canadian publisher, Raincoast Books. In his letter he
reminded Rowling that she used to be a single mother without much
money and one of the advantages of having an event at the SkyDome
would be to sell thousands of low-priced seats -- so parents
could afford to take their whole family.
General admission seats will go for C$5 ($3.40) while top seats
will fetch C$234.
Gatenby claimed that Rowling will not be the only person on the
bill and will be treated like all other authors. He promises it
will be theatrical in nature in order to appeal to Rowling's
``At a time when we are wringing our hands over the question 'are
children reading,' here is someone who almost single-handedly got
an entire generation reading books,'' Gatenby said.