From School Library Journal
The purpose of this ambitious guide is to expand readers' enjoyment and understanding of J. K. Rowling's series by encouraging critical thinking and an exploration of the layers of meaning in the books. Unfortunately, Schafer's insights sacrifice quality and significance for quantity. The 20 chapters cover topics such as literary merit; "Pottermania"; Rowling's life; and a section on "Teaching Harry," which includes chapter-by-chapter discussion questions and vocabulary lists as well as projects and activities related to each book. Themes explored include school life, food, sports, geography, mythology, archetypes and biblical references, history, science, and magic/witchcraft. Though many associations are drawn, most are random, undeveloped statements. Readers are told that there are seven deadly sins, the number seven is used by Jews to designate perfection, and that students spend seven years at Hogwarts. The book is most useful as a reference source, particularly for its details of characters, setting, and plot and the impressive bibliography.Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Mt. St. Alban, Washington, DC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Part of the Beacham's SourceBooks series for teaching young adult fiction, this extensive introduction to the Harry Potter series (not approved by J. K. Rowling, as the cover proclaims) offers everything you want to know about the series, and in some cases more than that. Linked to a Web site that updates the information, this jam-packed book begins by telling parents, teachers, librarians, researchers, even student readers how to use the book. It then goes on to discuss "Pottermania," including information about merchandising and books in translation; an "interpretive" biography of Rowling; characters and themes; the relationship of the Potter books to myth and the Bible; and literary quality--among many, many topics. A final section, entitled "Teaching Harry," offers overviews, projects and activities, and questions for book discussion. Much of this is interesting and often useful, but there's also some downright silliness: "None of the family members exhibit any traits of a weasel that might be assumed of someone with the name Weasley." Exhaustive and exhausting. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved