Harry Potter fans unite in awaiting last book release

In bookstores across the United States, kids, parents and grandparents will sit through the evening to await the release of J.K. Rowling's final installation of the saga of Harry Potter, his beloved friends at Hogwarts and the notorious villain, ...

In bookstores across the United States, kids, parents and grandparents will sit through the evening to await the release of J.K. Rowling's final installation of the saga of Harry Potter, his beloved friends at Hogwarts and the notorious villain, Lord Voldemort. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" arrives tomorrow.

Regardless of religious affiliations and beliefs, fiction like the "Lord of the Rings" and Harry Potter pull people from that great black hole in our living rooms, the television, and the communication means that have replaced human interaction, the computer screen, to a more old-fashioned form of entertainment, the book.

For those in the old-fashioned world who still long for so-called "snail mail" and who love the comfort of a book (that need not be plugged in), the popularity of any reading material that causes kids and their extended families to gather together to read and discuss, is a matter of celebration.

I grew up with a father reading the Holy Bible daily, prayers and discussions about sin and holy living. Books of all sort were at home, with the exception of fiction, which, save for a single Grimm's fairy tale book, sans illustrations, filled the world of a family united in Godly worship and the pursuit of sensible learning. Strange now, but religion and science were our mainstay.

Enter my own children and the need to give them everything I didn't have growing up. Books of every sort were at home. I was an artist whose livelihood was medical communication (read that truth in anatomical illustrations and documentation for the purpose of teaching future medical doctors) and the kids just knew life as it was. They also had a strong dose of biblical texts coupled with plant and animal husbandry. Because I had no interest in fiction, neither did they.


Years pass and grandchildren arrived. My oldest, now a parent herself, was hooked on her animals at a young age. Dogs and cats, horses, fish and fowl, bovine and every other animal one has on a farm, by purpose or by accident she helped to raise. She was not interested in anything fictional, especially not Harry Potter. So fiction was off the path until another granddaughter arrived on the morning after my mother died.

Like my mother, this one was interested in fiction. She was not "an old lady in a cradle" that mother used to call her only daughter. Katie began to read at a very early age. By the time she was in the first grade she had been through some of the Harry Potter books. Her reading skills improved to the point she was accepted into the gifted program in her county and has excelled in reading comprehension, retention and scientific skills. She has a dog, wishes for a cat, and as an only child has been catered to by doting parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

She calls her grandmother every Saturday to discuss the latest news: Muggle news and other fictional concepts she writes and thinks about. A writer since she was too young to write, she is creative, thoughtful and provocative in questioning the universe. Since she was a preschooler she wanted to be a college art teacher (go figure). More recently, it has been CSI and medicine.

Who knows why anyone wants at her age to be "whatever" when they grow up. The main thing is she is exposed to a variety of facts, is learning to make decisions beyond her age, and has an interest in learning at a pace foreign to many kids in their fourth year of school.

Anticipation of tomorrow has been a tortuous thing for her. My son and his wife didn't let her see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." They will preview the film after I have, and maybe then she can see it. This pattern has been their choice sin­ce the first film was out on VHS.

For me, it was my first major venture (by choice) into fiction. I've always been a nonfiction advocate because as a newspaper junkie and medical illustrator, facts and accuracy were uppermost in my life. As an artist, however, fantasy has always been a factor in visual creativity. Consider portraits: without some fiction I'd never get paid. No one wants to have a photographic likeness of themselves ... not really. They hope you'll "see" them more beautiful or rugged than they are.

So the job of proof-reading Harry Potter became a chore of great joy. As I read and sent Katie her copies, she began to read and wanted to discuss her thoughts on the book. A great thing, that.

As she progressed in school she found not every teacher thought Harry Potter books were for first- second-, and third-graders. She sought out friends who read and could discuss the books and other fiction. She was impressed with many authors, not just J.K. Rowling's work, but she did and does prefer to discuss those because she's read them all to date (several times) and passed on her scholastic understanding of them at school. Reading Harry Potter opened the door for her as a creative person and a scholar.


So today and tomorrow we bond with Potter fans around the world awaiting J.K. Rowling's seventh and last book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

If anyone has art-related activities to include in this column, write: "Art Voices," c/o Sharon Cox, P.O. Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.

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