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Harry Potter, an 11 year old view

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    Summer Reading: Harry Potter By Elizabeth and Michael Foss HERALD Columnist In light of the recent Harry Potter craze, my 11-year-old and I decided to do a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2000
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      Summer Reading: Harry Potter

      By Elizabeth and Michael Foss
      HERALD Columnist


      In light of the recent Harry Potter craze, my 11-year-old and I decided to
      do a little critical reading together. We read the first book in the series
      and
      I asked Michael to write a review. Here, he shares his opinions and a
      suggestion, too:

      My experience with Harry Potter was very decisive to say the least. It took
      me just one book to decide not to read the rest of the series.
      Eleven-year-old Harry Potter lives with the Dursleys, his aunt and uncle,
      and their spoiled son, Dudley. The Dursleys despise Harry for coming into
      their
      lives as an infant in a basket on their front porch. Mrs. Dursley’s sister,
      Harry’s mother, died alongside her husband. They were both wizards. The evil
      Lord Voldermort came to the Potter household when Harry was one to try to
      bring the Potters to the dark side. When the Potters refused, he killed the
      couple but Harry was too powerful for the lord and only was scarred.

      The boy grows up thinking his parents died in a car accident. On Harry’s
      birthday, a mysterious letter comes in the mail from a school that teaches
      boys and girls to become witches and wizards. On the day it’s time to leave
      for the school, Hogwarts, the real adventure begins. Harry learns to make
      potions, how to transfigure rats into hairpins and other useful things.

      The book consistently stumbles on the topic of right and wrong. For example:
      Harry and his classmates are learning how to fly on broomsticks when the
      teacher is called away for a while. She tells the students to stay put and
      not to fly! Well, the school bully, Draco Malfoy, decides to pick on one of
      the students by picking up the boy’s broomstick and flying off. Harry Potter
      flies after Malfoy and just as Harry zooms up, the culprit goes down. The
      teacher catches Harry up in the air and she pretends to scold him in front
      of the class but then commends him for his flying ability behind closed doors.
      These kinds of mixed-message incidents happen throughout the book.

      The book takes a very sinister, troublesome spin when Harry comes face to
      face with Voldermort. When the dark lord failed to kill Harry, he lost all
      his power. So he looks over the world trying to find someone to possess.
      With the body of a man in his control, Voldermort attacks Harry. The boy is so
      strong Voldermort’s hands blister and burn when he touches Potter. The power
      is so great the body perishes but the dark lord filters into the air to find
      another victim.

      The book’s satanic references were very disturbing as can be imagined. I
      don’t think it’s appropriate for little kids. The author also portrays the
      muggles (non-magic folk) to be idiotic bumblers that have no clue about
      anything. The children in this book as well as the adults are very
      disrespectful. There is a lot of lying and cheating by both adults and
      children that goes unpunished. Many controversial things in the text were not
      needed, and they did not add any glory to this book. It was very
      disappointing.

      A friend of my mom’s told me that in the second book, Harry and his friends
      bury a screaming mandrake root. The more the root screams, the more dirt
      they dump on it. A mandrake root looks like a baby. In case the reader didn’t
      know
      that, there is a picture of it at the beginning of the chapter. I wonder why
      the author picked a root that looks like a baby to bury. [Mom’s note: our
      dictionary says that the root of a mandrake has been traditionally used to
      promote conception. Why did she choose a mandrake?] The author says that in
      the fourth book Harry’s hormones are supposed to kick in. I don’t even want
      to know what that’s supposed to mean.

      [as those of us who've read it know, it doesn't mean an awful lot - though I
      was worried too. - ms]

      Instead of Harry Potter, I recommend the Redwall series of books by English
      author, Brian Jacques. The books are about abbey mice who live around the
      medieval time. The mice live in a great sandstone abbey. The hero of the
      books is Martin the warrior (a mouse featured in all the books). Martin
      defends Redwall Abbey from villainous ferrets, weasels, stoats, foxes, and
      rats. The warrior mouse appears alive in four books, and comes to new
      champions of Redwall as a guide in dreams (much like Obi-Wan Kenobi in the
      Star Wars films).

      The book has a very distinctive feeling of good and evil. The good abbey
      mice and their colleagues, portrayed by otters, moles, hares, hedgehogs,
      badgers,
      and squirrels, are exposed to many evils but always persevere through it
      all, never once dropping to evil's level. The books usually have very fierce
      battles that are described very graphically. The battles are very gory, and
      always the mice try to stop bloodshed from happening but once they are
      threatened to the point where combat is the only option, they fight. Always,
      mind you, the mice learn from the experience of war. The mice lose many
      friends and family during the wars but at the end of the book they always
      start to rebuild.

      The books have very rich literary style and are very entertaining for kids
      and adults. The language really improves your grammar immensely.
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