When Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published, JK Rowling would have had little idea that her boy wizard would become as famous in the Muggle world as he is in her fictional world.
“There will be books written about Harry. Every child in the world will know his name.”
And yet here we are. Today marks the first ever Harry Potter Book Night. Launched by Bloomsbury Publishing, the day celebrating all things Potter.
I admit that I was late to the Potter phenomenon. It wasn’t until I was laid up at home in 2003, recovering from an operation to put various bits of metal into my badly broken ankle, that I decided to set aside my doubts and give the series a try. I was soon hooked, and joined the legions of fans waiting with bated breath for each new book to be released. Each time I opened the cover of a new release, I felt the rush of excitement, wondering where this latest book would take me.
There were plenty of highs – moments that had me laughing out loud. And more than a few lows, where I shed tears over the pages. I still feel a bit of a gap now Harry’s story is over, but now I’m lucky enough to be able to enjoy watching my kids discover Harry’s world for the first time.
It’s funny to see the difference in their experience and mine. I was an adult in my early 20s when I discovered Potter, so even when I was gripped by the events, I knew they weren’t really real. My eldest daughter is 7 now and beginning to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And there’s still a bit of her that isn’t quite convinced that it’s just a story. She’s not-so-secretly hoping she’ll get a letter from Hogwarts when she’s 11. And there’s a bit of me that wished she was right.
But while we’re waiting for that owl, we have our top 10 favourite Potter moments to console ourselves…
10: A very Weasley Christmas
Christmas at the Weasley House in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a welcome respite in one of the darker books. Even though it’s not the flashiest of affairs, there’s something innately familiar and comforting about it. Purkey, tooding and Mr Weasley nodding off over a satsuma? Sounds like my kind of Christmas!
9: Snape the boggart
Poor Neville. Snape was quite intimidating until Professor Lupin transformed him from the scary to the ridiculous with the flick of a wand and a stuffed vulture hat!
8: Expulsion or death
Hermione demonstrates a dedication to her academic career that any parent would be proud of when she remonstrates with Ron and Harry about their lucky escape from Fluffy. The way she ranks death as a less catastrophic outcome that getting expelled gives any child of pushy parents those familiar shivers as they recall their parents dire warnings not to come home with duff grades or else!
7: Meals in the Great Hall
Treacle tart, shepherd’s pie, or chops and gravy, it all sounds delicious! Certainly much better than the trays of unidentifiable stew we used to get at my school. Though I suppose we do have chocolate crunch and pink custard to console ourselves with. As far as I know, that’s not on the menu at Hogwarts.
6: Swamping Umbridge
Quite possibly the best flounce in the history of fiction, the Weasley Twins dramatic gesture to mark the end of their Hogwarts career managed to stick it to the
man witch, while creating a handy diversion for Harry into the bargain. Truly, the Weasley Twins are our Kings.
5: Molly the tiger
Yes, that immortal line “Not my daughter, you bitch!” Every parent can relate to that feeling, though we recognise that whipping out our wands may be a bit of an extreme way to solve a playground argument our kid is upset about. But it’s good to see JK Rowling show the world that there’s no such thing as “just” a mum.
4: The many trials of Dudley Dursley
I know, I know. We should be nicer about him, because he and Harry are still on each others Christmas card lists. But I still take a savage pleasure in a bully getting his comeuppance when he ends up with a tail in Philosopher’s Stone and with a Ton Tongue when the Weasleys pay a visit. He could have avoided both incidences if he hadn’t tried to take what wasn’t his, after all.
3: The private life of teaspoons
This is so well observed. Many girls will be able to identify with the experience of trying to explain a complicated emotional dilemma to a male friend or loved one, only to get a monosyllabic answer. Or worse, a super-rational deconstruction of the situation using only the powers of logic. If only my comebacks were as good as Hermione’s in their bickering sessions!
2: The friends of Dumbledore’s Army
As Harry observes, Luna Lovegood hasn’t quite got the filter between brain and mouth that other students have. Sometimes it makes her sound strange, but at other times it leads her to utter uncomfortable truths that the listener might prefer not to hear. When she refers to the counter-Umbridge group that trains secretly in Defence Against the Dark Arts as “like having friends”, Harry finds this a little odd. But to those of us who aren’t confident of our place in our social group; the shy, the quiet and the introverts, this statement makes perfect sense.
1: Malfoy the amazing bouncing ferret
Yes, it’s a punishment that makes old school ones like throwing the chalk duster at pupils’ heads sound tame. But it’s still the funniest moment in the whole Potterverse as far as I’m concerned. Just imagining the look on Malfoy’s face as he realises what’s about to happen is enough to have me in stitches every time!
So what’s your favourite Potter moment? Let me know.