What makes the Harry Potter series so successful? Maybe it's the fact that J.K. Rowling doesn't write children's books, she writes children's stories, more in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm than Dr. Seuss. The exploits of Harry and his friends captivate even the shortest attention spans by engaging the imagination with vivid characters and fast-moving action, instead of trying to merely catch the eye with colorful pictures or pop-up effects. Not surprisingly, the Potter tales sound wonderful read aloud, and adapt to the audiobook format extremely well. Broadway actor Jim Dale's impressive vocal range gives each character in the book its own distinctive voice--a considerable task, given the pantheon of witches, warlocks, ghosts, ghouls, dwarves, and elves that Harry encounters in his second outing. And thankfully, since the book is read unabridged, no one's favorite character is omitted. Engaging for children without being childish, the audio version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
is worthy addition to the deservedly popular series. (Running time: 9 hours, 7 CDs) --Andrew Nieland
From School Library Journal
Grade 3-8-Fans of the phenomenally popular Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Scholastic, 1998) won't be disappointed when they rejoin Harry, now on break after finishing his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Reluctantly spending the summer with the Dursleys, his mean relatives who fear and detest magic, Harry is soon whisked away by his friends Ron, Fred, and George Weasley, who appear at his window in a flying Ford Anglia to take him away to enjoy the rest of the holidays with their very wizardly family. Things don't go as well, though, when the school term begins. Someone, or something, is (literally) petrifying Hogwarts' residents one by one and leaving threatening messages referring to a Chamber of Secrets and an heir of Slytherin. Somehow, Harry is often around when the attacks happen and he is soon suspected of being the perpetrator. The climax has Harry looking very much like Indiana Jones, battling a giant serpent in the depths of the awesome and terrible Chamber of Secrets. Along with most of the teachers and students introduced in the previous book, Draco Malfoy has returned for his second year and is more despicable than ever. The novel is marked throughout by the same sly and sophisticated humor found in the first book, along with inventive, new, matter-of-fact uses of magic that will once again have readers longing to emulate Harry and his wizard friends.Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
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