on July 1, 2000
An adult friend (age 49)loaned me three Harry Potter books for the summer. Wednesday evening I began the first book and I finished the third today, Saturday morning. I am writing this review before I order the fourth Potter book. Will my friend be surprised to get 4 books back! The author's imagination is vividly presented in a cast of almost believable characters attending a school we all wish we could attend. Classes like "Defense Against Dark Arts", "Divination", "Transfiguration", "Arithmancy" and "Care of Magical Creatures" are written as if the author actually attended them and certainly enjoyed every minute of class. More than can be said for most of the classes I have attended. Each book in the series encompasses one year of Harry's fascinating life. The Potter books are written in a way that can charm any age reader. I am 64.
What a wonderful book! I read it after my 11-year old son suggested it as a change from my usual reading fare of history and biography. It turned out to be much more than just a springtime reading diversion...it became for me a "magical" reading experience in more ways than one. I was quickly captivated by Harry, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Hermoine, and yes, even the nasty Dursleys, Snape, and Draco Mafoy.
Hogwarts came to life for me. I found myself unable to put the book down because it was so exciting and much fun to read! It's easy to understand why my son (and so many kids just like him) love Harry Potter so much.
J.K. Rowling proves herself a gifted writer of children's books, not only because the plot is good and the characters come to life, but also because her writing fires the imagination and teaches positive values.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is a great book for kids of all ages...from 9 to 99. It's destined to be a classic of children's literature.
on October 17, 2007
With this introductory novel was published in 1997, few would have predicted the unprecedented success this series would produce. And everything that made Harry Potter so successful is all first shown, though hardly fully explained, in this book, HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSPHER'S STONE.
The novel opens with Harry living under the cupboard with his abusive aunt and uncle. He has had a mean, depressed life, and though an active boy, the sheer amount of trauma he must have endured would scar any child. But the door opens out of this lifestyle. I've read an interesting theory (obviously not true), that a much different writer than Rowling would have ended Book 7 with Harry having imagined all this fantasy world, where he was so prominent and famous, to help escape the neglect and abuse from the Dursleys.
He gets a letter (actually, hundreds) saying he is in fact a wizard. So he is enrolled the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Him, along with his new friend the giant Hagrid, go to Diagon Alley, a magical bazaar, and thus he is thrust into the magical universe so captured the imagination of millions. We soon learn Harry is world famous among wizards for conquering an evil Wizard named Vo - um - He Who Must Not Be Named. Sorry `bout that slip. =). Along the way, we learn that Voldemort is after a magical artifiact called the Philosopher's Stone (which was, unfortunately, changed from the UK original title to "Sorcerer's Stone" in all other regions). So much of the novel is driven by the three main characters defending this stone from Voldemort.
In this novel we get the first ever glimpses of Hogwarts, Voldemort, Quidditch, Dumbledore, Severus Snape, muggles, the Forbidden Forest, the Invisibility Cloak, and any other number of thins Rowling's magical confectionary of an imagination has cooked up for us.
One of the best things about this book, and indeed about the whole series, is how Rowling plants details which, when reading, you may not necessarily pick up on, but are later rather important in later volumes. Who would think Griphook and Hagrid's admonition no one breaks into Gringotts would have such prominence in Book 7? Or the importance of Harry being able to talk to the boa constrictor, something which is not referenced again until Book 2 and then not fully explained until Book 7? Or the Invisibility Cloak, a device first introduced in this novel, but you have no idea of its importance, or even that it has real significane, until Book 7.
Another great example of this planting of clues is Neville Longbottom, who, but by fate, could easily have been the main star of the series, though you don't find out that information until much later in Book 5.
The book also introduces the relationship dynamics that would continue throughout the entire series, from the interplay between the three main kids (Harry, Ron, and Hermione), to the ambiguous Severus Snape, the wise mentor figure of Albus Dumbledore, bumbling Hagrid with his love of nasty creatures, prim and reserved Professor McGonagall, evil incarnate Voldemort, Draco Malfoy, etc.
Overall, there are numerous memorable scenes in this novel. As the novels progressed, the children aged and the target audience would have aged as well. In this novel, they are still very young and immature, but already at this early point in their career, there are seeds of greatness for Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
The same can be said of this debut novel as well.
This is my order of Potter books by preference:
Prisoner of Azkaban
Order of the Phoenix
Philosopher's Stone/Chamber of Secrets (I rank them both the same)
Goblet of Fire.
on February 9, 2000
First of all, I am 52 years old. While I have always been a big reader, I generally have not read children's book. However, having seen the Harry Potter books on the best seller lists for months, I finally purchased Sorcerer's Stone.
I could not put the book down. While the plots and storylines are not complicated, they are completely captivating. Cover to cover the book is entertaining. I always thought that a wizard's land (Hogwarts in this case) would be a perfect idealistic place; when in fact it is full of good and evil, much like our real world. This thought captivates me as I begin Book 2.
I found the Sorcerer's Stone enchanting; much like I felt when I read the Tolkien Trilogy.
I highly recommend this book--you have got to love Harry Potter.
on June 21, 2000
Harry Potter has lived a dismal life with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys. He sleeps in a closet and has never had a birthday party or Christmas presents. Even worse, he has to endure life with his horrible spoiled cousin, Dudley. Then on Harry's eleventh birthday, things change when a letter arrives, (by owl), inviting him to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Suddenly Harry finds himself among friends, learning about potion-making and magic-wand waving and broomstick riding. There're chocolate frogs and Every Flavor Beans and a three-headed dog and Quidditch-a game better than soccer. Also, Hagrid, a lovable gamekeeper who befriends Harry; Hermione Granger, a witch who's read all the school books and knows all the rules; and there's Ron Weasly, Harry's best friend who has quite a legacy of his own to fill. Hogwarts treats him well, even with the abomidable Malfoy's mean tricks or Professor Snape's obvious hatred of Harry. The soon Harry finds himself in the middle of a mystery at Hogwarts, and together with his two new friends, embarks on adventures he never dreamed possible.
The book is engaging with its imagery, humor, plot twists and real-life child problems. The book doesn't only appeal to children but adults as well. She's a master on fantasy. She really can, with no difficulty at all, think herself back to 11 years old. You will love the whimsical descriptions, humorous quotes and the fun characters.
on January 30, 2000
Granted, I lack the basic criterion for being an expert on children's book--I'm 26 years old. For old times' sake, I do try to stay current on what's new in children's book. Compared to almost everything else I've read, Ms. Rowling's Harry Potter series stands far ahead of the pack.
Ms. Rowling takes a classic scenario in British children's literature--adolescent children going to boarding school--and turns it on its head. Usually, all of the exciting stuff happens during school holidays (as in C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" or Enid Blyton's "Five" and "Seven" series). In Harry Potter's world, school holidays are spent among the "Muggles"--the non-magical world--while school is where the magic really happens.
And magic there is! From the wizardly sport of Quidditch to classes in potions to a three-headed dog named Fluffy, Ms. Rowling throws in enough magic to keep the interest of children (and adults) who don't usually like reading. A sparkling plot, realistic (if you can imagine a magical world, then these people belong in it) characters and a fully-realized world combine to create a true gem of children's literature. This one can easily share a shelf with "The Chronicles of Narnia", "Alice in Wonderland" and even "The Hobbit".
Don't miss Harry Potter and his adventures!
on April 26, 2000
Now and then, A book comes along that makes people enabled to remember every luscious detail. For instance: The Hobbit. You certainly know all about Bilbo Baggins, and you pprobably know all about the author and where it was from. A new book has come along: Harry Potter, especially the first one. I can tell you all of the character's names and traits, all of the Hogwart's houses , and I inhale all of the wonderful info bits Hermoine exhales. Hats off to this one. . . . Ta' Ta'.
on June 10, 2002
I studied Spanish in high school and university. I am far from a fluent speaker, though I don't think I'd get myself killed wandering around in Mexico or Spain. Having read all of the Harry Potter books in English many times, I decided to give this a try to brush up on my Spanish skills. I am only about 50 pages into it (reading Spanish takes me a lot longer than English!) but so far I am enjoying it immensely. Of course, it helps that I know what is happening, but that has also helped me with my understanding of the Spanish. I've really enjoyed this experience.
In today's economy, customers buying books need to know exactly what they're buying. In this case, what your thirty bucks buys is -- apart from the previously published text (the novel itself) and the previously published art (interior art) -- is, essentially, a new cover by longtime Harry Potter cover artist Mary GrandPre, and a black-and-white illustration by Rowling (quite the cartoonist!), which comprises the "bonus" material Scholastic has been touting but keeping under wraps.
The wraps are off and, while the illustration is nice, Scholastic would be better off issuing either an illustration edition with more art (which, by the way, exists), or taking the momentous occasion of the 10th anniversary to celebrate it in a significant fashion: Rowling, why wasn't there an original interview in which you looked back at the ten years of Harry Potter in the media? Why wasn't there a long essay by a respected literary critic looking at the Harry Potter phenomenon? Why wasn't there MORE text?
If this was simply a reprint edition, the omission of new text would be understandable. But when you're celebrating ten years of Harry Potter in print, how, exactly, does a new cover, a previously published (to the best of my knowledge) illustration for the colored endpapers, and a black-and-white illustration by Rowling "celebrate" the book's publication?
As there is no historical retrospective here, I'd have to say that Scholastic missed the boat: This edition could have been so much more, but it suffers (ironically) from a failure of imagination.
I have rated it five stars because the first novel is a literary classic in the children's field. The publisher, however, needs to think about how to ADD VALUE to the existing edition when touting its "anniversary" status, esp. if they intend on reissuing matching volumes in the future. Otherwise, it comes off as being just another edition to get the fans' hard-earned money, instead of offering something new, different, and significantly improved.
on November 20, 1999
Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone is one of those rare children's books that seems to be utterly wasted on children. The plot is engaging, the characters are likeable, and it's a good quick read for those older than the specified ages. I'm 18, and I finished it in a few hours, then handed it to my mother, who is 39. After she finished it, she agreed that we needed to get the rest of the series. In a family that regularly reads Shakespeare, that's high praise! It's a refreshing and enjoyable way to get your mind off the overly serious Muggle world and bring back a bit of wonder and magic. If you're a parent considering getting this book for your child, please do... But get a copy for yourself as well, and enjoy revisiting your own childhood.