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The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide Paperback – June 18, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor (June 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592763987
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592763986
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Now comes a fine appreciation of Rowling's achievement from a first-rate writer, believer, and (to top it off) Chestertonian Catholic. Thanks Nancy Brown, for doing justice to the greatest Christian fantasy epic of our generation." --Mark P. Shea, Senior Content Editor,

"At last, the voice of Christian common sense is heard! Nancy Brown's careful study will provide reliable guidance to Catholic parents who seek practice and impact to their children an attitude toward contemporary fiction that is both open and discerning. I warmly recommend this book." --Fr. Pierre Ingram, C.C. S.T.L.

From the Author

Besides author Nancy Carpentier Brown, two other authors contributed to this book. Dale Ahlquist, President of The American Chesterton Society, and author of G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense, contributed a chapter on why Harry Potter is just common sense good reading for children. Regina Doman, author of Angel in the Waters and numerous Fairy Tale Novels for Teens, contributed a chapter on true fairy tales and their value to young people in forming their character. Doman recommends Harry Potter to Catholic parents who are willing to read alongside their chidlren.

More About the Author

Nancy is a Catholic wife and mother. She's a veteran homeschooler. In addition, Brown runs the American Chesterton Society Facebook Fan page, manages the Twitter and YouTube accounts, as well as podcasts for the show Uncommon Sense. Nancy is an award winning poet. She writes a regular column for Gilbert Magazine, as well as contributes articles, interviews, and book reviews to Gilbert and many other publications.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
Her book offers answers to these questions and so much more.
Margaret M. Myers
Like me, Brown had a rather negative view of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series until she actually sat down and read the books.
Pete Vere
Her guide cuts through the rhetoric and hyperbole associated with those who have frequently dismissed the books.
Kindle Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Karen Edmisten on August 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Mystery of Harry Potter is a book I've been waiting for.

Weary of defending the fact that I've allowed Harry into our home, I longed for some good Catholic mom to write down all the reasons why Harry can be perfectly compatible with a faithful, orthodox Catholic family.

I've mentioned on my blog a couple of times that I wanted to write a series of posts about how I came to be a fan, came to allow the books for my older children, and about the ways in which I believe the books are misinterpreted or misrepresented by some outspoken Catholic critics. I haven't gotten that series done because other things have simply taken priority in life and writing, putting Harry on the back burner. And, being a stickler, I didn't want to write about the books until I could devote the time necessary to do them justice.

I still don't have that series of posts written, but now it doesn't seem nearly as important. My own experience of initial reluctance, followed by treading slowly and carefully into Harry Territory, and then not only allowing the series, but enjoying it along with my kids, is very similar to Nancy Brown's experience.

And, my overall take is the same as Nancy's, and it's simple:

Read ... Guide ... Discuss.

But, then, that's my take on everything with my kids. We read a lot of stuff together. Their dad and I guide them. There's discussion, often fun and lively, sometimes critical and dissecting. Isn't that what we parents are supposed to do?

I really enjoyed the opening of Nancy's book, because it all sounded so familiar. Like Nancy, I was initially reluctant to jump on the Harry bandwagon. Like Nancy, I'd read a number of critical reviews from writers I respected.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on July 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
A bit of background on my part. I already love Harry. I didn't think I needed a guide for my family, but I have many friends who are convinced the stories are a slippery slope to evil. I was hoping this book would give me some helpful hints to discussing Potter with folks like this.

What I really loved about this book is that it is a common sense approach, not only to Harry Potter, but to family-life in general. Ms. Brown encourages reading together as a family, and discussing themes and whether or not they are appropriate for your family. She reminds us, it is our job as parents to set rules and guidelines for our children in what they watch and what they read. Certainly, as she walks you through her own path to discovering HP, you come to understand why Potter is a worthy work for families to read together.

Her book offers discussion questions, connections to literary history and real, honest-to-goodness thoughts about why Harry is an important phenomenon. Her guide cuts through the rhetoric and hyperbole associated with those who have frequently dismissed the books. It is a clear, concise, non-confrontational book about what I knew to be true when I began reading HP.

Harry Potter is a morality tale. It is about how love triumphs over everything in the end. The Mystery of HP takes everything and makes you see how it works together. The book hits all right points, offers great questions to think about and makes me want to go back and re-read books 1 through 6 before #7 comes out this month (and maybe even some Chesterton too). Even if you've never questioned whether Harry Potter is appropriate for your family, if you don't feel the need for a "guide", this book is worth reading. She provides a reminder and an analysis of all that is good and true in the Potter series.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By MVM on August 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I learned about this book from of all people, my 10 year old daughter. She asked if I would order it so she could read it. I said if she promised to read it all the way through, then we would get it for her. When it arrived, I read it myself first, and realized that the book was meant more for parents than for children. However, I came up with a plan to use it with her active participation. I said that as she read the sixth book, after she finished a chapter, we would go through the "table discussions" and questions posed by Ms. Brown in a chapter of "The Mystery" book. It worked out very well - chapter after chapter I learned to appreciate a different side of the Harry Potter series than I might have otherwise, and so did my daughter. On top of that, we both got to talk to each other about the media, morality (including moral relativism), the value of heroes, making the right choices, and how we all have to constantly on our guard against the evil in this world.

The book has other uses. For example, to stimulate dinner table discussion, and in helping parents decide if their child is really ready to read the series, and/or see the movies. For example, for several reasons, we delayed allowing our daughter to read the sixth book until this summer. After reading the seventh book, I can see she will have to wait until at least next summer for that.

Thank you Mrs. Brown for making such a terrific resource available to parents - whether they are Catholic or not!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By knitter mom on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Bravo, Mrs. Brown! Your thoughtful, well-written book is a breath of fresh air! Like a previous commenter, I was already a fan of Harry and didn't really need this book to make my decision about the Potter books, but have found it to be valuable for discussing the series with my own children and my friends who are not (yet) fans of Harry Potter.

This book does a fantastic job of distilling all the hype and showing where the truth lies. Mrs. Brown does not give a blanket endorsement of these books... she gives parents some tools to make that decision for themselves. She offers helpful guidelines for determining at what age children may be ready for each book (the books grow in intensity as the series progresses) and helps to put the objections of sincere Catholics into perspective.

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, this guide for Catholic families can give you more to chew on as you read and reread the series.

If you are unsure of what to think about Harry Potter, this book will give you a lot of food for thought as you determine whether or not they are right for your family.

If you oppose Harry Potter, this book might help you to take another view of the series and will definitely help you understand why your pro-Harry friends may not be as off as you think... even if you never approve of the Harry Potter series for your own family.

Good job, Mrs. Brown. I love the book.
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