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Potter’s Field Redux

FullSizeRenderThanks to Siân (recently) and Martha (several years ago), I am compulsively reading Harry Potter. Sian brought the guy up in a Horn Book podcast and awakened my curiosity; Martha had told me back in the day that Jim Dale’s audio edition is the perfect entrée to the books for those who are not among the true believers. She was right.

I had opined a lot about Harry Potter when the series began but stopped reading (and opining) halfway through the third volume. I simply couldn’t take anymore, and there seemed to be no point–whimsical fantasy has never been my thing, and there was no shortage of better-informed voices speaking to Harry’s virtues and flaws.

So, fresh start. I am just at the revelation of the sorcerer’s stone in the first book. My main problem with the series was its sense of enforced joviality, jabbing me in the ribs with its insistence I chuckle. And where I was afraid that an audio edition would only intensify that effect, Jim Dale underplays everything, consistently using a less italicized delivery than I had been hearing in my own head.

And on Saturday I saw Quidditch! Well, I saw them setting up and warming up and I asked lots of questions. (Asking questions while out running is great. Especially when handsome young men go all Boy Scout on you and call you Sir.) “Sir? Yes, Sir, this is a broomstick.” We discussed the number of balls (I still can’t hear “Golden Snitch” without recalling the Forbidden Broadway sketch) and the placement of hoops. It made me think about the two matches I’ve seen in the book thus far and the place of magic in their outcomes. Sometimes Rowling reminds me of that DM I’ve complained about, the one who pulled obstacles and solutions straight out of, er, the air but what I’m appreciating on this go-round is how Harry’s quest to learn just what is expected of him is always moving the story forward and deepening our connection with him.

I’m really enjoying it and will let you know how it goes.



Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Oh Roger dear one. This makes me so happy.

  2. This makes me happy, too. I read all of them out loud to my boys and we all enjoyed them tremendously. Azkaban is my favorite.

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