The Sorting Hat Has Decided….

That I am a Ravenclaw!  I am ecstatic, to say the least.  While I think every Harry Potter fan wants to be in Gryffindor, deep down I have always known I was a Ravenclaw.  When Pottermore opened up to beta testers and I finally got my owl, I hesitated.  What if the Sorting Hat sorted me into Slytherin? Or Hufflepuff?  I had to be in Ravenclaw!

I actually put off being sorted for a few days.  I played around on Pottermore (which is PHENOMENAL.  Seriously.).  I read lots of extra writing from JK Rowling, learned a ton, and remembered how to play video games.  I admired the graphics and the effort that went into the website.  I shopped in Diagon Alley and received my wand from Ollivander’s-  Cypress with unicorn core, ten inches, hard.

And then is was time.  I couldn’t put it off any longer.  My husband was sorted into Ravenclaw, much to his chagrin.  He thinks he belongs in Slytherin.  But I sat down to take the quiz.  A few minutes later, I had my results.  Ravenclaw!

 

Anyone else sorted yet?

How Harry Met Sarah

The wands Chris made for us

The first time I heard about Harry Potter and his lightning-shaped scar, I was in high school.  A nerd, and damn proud of it, I had many friends who were members of various fandoms- Highlander, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, amongst other.  A friend in the class below me asked if I had heard of this new British book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I had not, but as an bookworm I was willing to give it a shot.  I wasn’t doing a lot of reading at the time, due to my heavy course load, so a kid’s book seemed like a perfect choice.  My friend, Anne, brought in her copy a few days later, and I flew through it.  This was in 1998.  I was a sophomore in high school.

Upon finishing the first book I was irritated to learn that the next book wouldn’t be available until 1999.  That was a whole year away!  Keep in mind, this was in a world before Mugglenet, before The Leaky Cauldron, and before the joys of the multitude of websites devoted to the Harry Potter fandom.  Waiting for the next book meant just that- waiting.   (I vaguely remember a friend visiting England and getting a British copy, but the rest of us had to wait).

On June 2, 1999 I remember begging my mother to drive me to Barnes and Noble to pick up the newest book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  We didn’t get tickets to the midnight release party so we picked it up the next morning.  I remember spending a gift card on the hardcover book, a rarity for me.  I read it in less than a day.  The next book was released on a few months later, on September 2, 1999.  I remember it was right before school started.  The popularity of the books was growing and more and more people were Harry Potter fans.

Over the next year, Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron were launched.  My friends and I finally had a place to go and share our Harry Potter love.  On July 8, 2000 the fourth book was published.  My friends and I, entering our senior year of high school, attended the midnight release party at our local Barnes and Noble.  We tore through the book, logging onto Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron as soon as we finished so that we could start theorizing.

At this point, some of my friends started getting involved with fanfiction.  I never write and fanfic, but I was a beta reader for lots of friends!

At our last midnight release party, dressed up as Hermione and Harry

We had to wait a long time for the next book- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I graduated high school and started college.  I met more Harry Potter fans.  In fact, most of my college friends were big fans of the chosen one.  My friend Jess introduced me to the wonders of Draco Malfoy fanfiction and I started reading Cassie Clare’s livejournal and fanfiction.    The Draco Trilogy was epic.  And come on- we had to wait 3 years between books!  We needed something to keep us going!

During this time the first film was also released.  I remember seeing the film with some high school friends over Thanksgiving break.  JK Rowling’s website was also growing during this time, with small updates about the progress of the next book.

Finally, it was 2003.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released on June 21, 2003.  My birthday was June 23rd.  I wasn’t able to make it to the midnight release party and was heartbroken.  But on June 22nd I had plans to go to Seaside for my birthday and my friend Matt was picking me up.  Matt (or “the boy with the orange shoes”, as my mom called him) showed up at my house and handed me a copy of  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  He had gone to the release party a few hours earlier and picked up two copies.  One for himself, and one as my birthday gift.  It was awesome!  I remember reading frantically in the car as he drove to Seaside that day.  Sitting on the beach, celebrating my birthday with friends, I just wanted to get back to reading!

It was two more years before we would have the next book.  By this point, my now-husband and I were seriously dating.  He was not a Harry Potter fan before I met him, but I convinced him  to give them a try.  As a non-reader (I know!), he started listening to the audiobooks.  Pretty soon, he was a huge Harry Potter fan!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released on July 16, 2005.  My friends and I were college graduates.  But that certainly didn’t stop us from dressing up and going to the midnight release party at the Barnes and Noble by campus!  Chris dressed as Harry Potter and I dressed as Hermione.  There was a huge group of us there, including Mel and Siobhan.  We were all dressed up.  We had to get tickets for our books and there was an hours-long party before the books were handed out at the stroke of midnight.  Chris won a free copy of the book, which was awesome!  His costume was great and lots of little kids asked if he was Harry.  And we when left, at 12:05am, he was stopped by one of his professors who was also a huge Harry Potter fan.  Talk about crossing all age and gender lines!

My husband also made us amazing wands, to be used at midnight release parties and premieres.  I used mine when I was student teaching and dressed up at Harry Potter.  I have since used it for other Harry Potter costumes.  It’s amazing and better than anything I would get at Olivander’s.  My wand is painted with monarch butterflies and caterpillars, which are a huge part of my life.  (pictured above)

Chris is not  reader, as I said.  But he does like audiobooks.  Of course at this point, the audiobooks were not released simultaneously.  Thus, Chris and I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince aloud.  The entire thing.  I had no voice by the end, but it was well worth it! We stayed in his room and read for about 12 hours straight.  We couldn’t stop because the internet was full of spoilers!  We avoided tv, the internet, IMs, everything until the book was finished.  At which point we promptly got in touch with our friends (who also read all night and all day) and discussed the book.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on July 21, 2007.  By this point Chris had his own apartment and was working.  I was living at home and teaching full-time.  We decided to skip the midnight release festivities in favor of getting sleep so that we could read the entire book the next day.  We ended up waking up at 5:30am and going to the Shoprite up the road (open at 6am).  We were the only people in the store at that hour, but they were selling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!  We picked up our copy, grabbed breakfast at the bagel store next store, and we were home by 6:30am, reading.  Wespent the months leading up to that moment reading theories online and coming up with our own theories.  We settled in for the day and I began reading aloud.  Again, we were finished in about 12 hours and jumped online to chat with other fans about the end of an era.

In 2009, I attended NCTE in Philadelphia.  While I was there (for the day!), the all-too-kind Monica Edinger was nice enough to take a few moments away from the conference to meet with me.  We met up in the lobby of the hotel attached to the convention center and traded blog stories.  A few minutes into our conversation, Monica excused herself, saying she saw someone she knew.  Moments later, she was back with a petite blonde woman about my age.  “Sarah, this is Cheryl Klein from Scholastic”.  I about passed out.  I was well aware of who Cheryl Klein was- the continuity editor for the US editions of Harry Potter.  I shook her hand and proceeded to spit out a few words about being excited to meet her.  Cheryl was kind enough to pretend to have heard of my blog (only around for about a year at that time!)!  It didn’t matter- I was just thrilled to meet her!  It was one of the pinnacles of my time in the Harry Potter fandom.

While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the last book, it didn’t feel like the end.  We knew there were more movies coming so we weren’t too sad.  Since then Chris and I have seen each of the movies multiple times.  Today I purchased tickets for the final film.  Gone are the days of midnight showings- I am too old to stay awake that late!  I know I won’t fully enjoy the movie if I have to stay awake until 3am.  Plus, Chris has work the next day.  So we will be seeing the final film at 7pm on Friday.  I know I will be sad when I walk out of the theater, because it is the end of an era.

I read my first Harry Potter book as a sophomore in high school, a book recommended by a friend.  Since then I have made new friends, also fans.  I went to college while waiting for the next books to be published. I met Chris, fell in love, and read aloud the final books so that we could share them together. In the beginning I wasn’t allowed to go to the midnight release parties because I had school.  Today I am an adult and just can’t do it!  But I’ve been to midnight release parties, dressed up in costume, spent those nights with friends, had friends gift me with books, made new friends thanks to Harry and his friends, and eventually, became a married Harry Potter fan.  Before the final book was published, I was a teacher, recommending Harry Potter to my middle school students.  I watched as a new generation of students picked up J.K. Rowling’s tomes, unsure if they could read a series as long as Harry Potter.  I watched them tear through book after book, learning to love reading.  Today I teach at that same high school where I first met Harry.  I know I will see some of my students at the premiere, bringing me full circle.  Harry Potter has been with me from high school to marriage.  I’ve truly grown up with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

That’s my history with Harry.  What’s yours?

Pottermore!

It’s like I’ve been given a time turner.  Today, JK Rowling is making a major announcement.  After years of spending my summers awaiting the newest Harry Potter book in the series, it’s been sad to watch my summers go by without any news from Rowling.  But when the news broke that she would be making a major announcement on June 23rd, I was thrilled!  It was like I was reliving the summers of my childhood.  Ok, really my adolescence.

Check out the website if you haven’t seen it yet.  Owls!  (Maybe Hedwig isn’t really dead!  Is that the announcement she plans to make?  One can hope against hope….)

What could it be?  We know it’s not a book.  Rumors seem to lean toward some type of online game or social network.  Personally, I am hoping for a Harry Potter encyclopedia or someplace to store all of the backstory that Rowling creating while writing the books.  I have a feeling it might be the game, but one can hope!

According to the Guardian, Pottermore will be an online treasure hunt with real world clues and prizes.  They say they received a top-secret memo by mistake and the treasure hunt will include wands hidden in locations across the UK and US.  Umm, yes please!  I would definitely participate!  Would you?

Are you excited?  Are you having flashbacks to the summers of yore?

The Power of Harry Potter at IRA

Will you be at IRA?  I am thrilled to extend the following invitation to you via Scholastic.

RSVP directly to loisbridges@earthlink.net

Lois and I have been in contact a few times over the last couple of months. Lois is a Literacy Publisher, formerly with Heinemann for ten years; now with Scholastic. She and Scholastic are interested in connecting with teachers who use Harry Potter in their classrooms to entice their students to read.  I shared a few of my blog posts with her and they will actually be sharing one of them with attendees at the party.  Harry Potter is so important to me so I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting endeavor, in any way I can.

Beedle the Bard on Display!

The Collector's Edition

The Tales of Beedle the Bard (standard edition) will be released to the public at large on December 4th.  It goes without saying that my copy is already on pre-order.  Oh, how I wish I could afford this: The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector’s Edition (Offered Exclusively by Amazon)   However, I never imagined that I would get the opportunity to view one of the original books here in the United States.  But when I logged onto The Leaky Cauldron this afternoon, I was astonished to learn that one of the seven original manuscripts would be on display in New York City this winter!   

one of the seven original handwritten copies of the book will be on display to the public here in New York City in December. Scholastic has announced that Arthur Levine, editor of the US editions of the Harry Potter novels, was one of the lucky people to receive a copy of this book from J.K. Rowling, and will lend his book for display at the The New York Public Library. Fans here in the States will be able to see the book for free when it is on display at the library December 4, 2008 to January 4, 2009

courtesy of The Leaky Cauldron

 

I know that I will definitely be making my way to the NYPL sometime during that month!  Also of note is that there will be a special press preview on December 3rd  “where Arthur Levine will be appearing, and ‘will share his experiences editing the series and the thrill of being one of only six individuals who received the special gift from Ms. Rowling.’ ”  Ummm, WOW!?  How amazing would that reception be?  

 

So, will you make it a point to stop by and view the manuscript during December?

My Favorite Books of 2007

This year has been a banner one in terms of books I have read. I have always been a voracious reader- my aunt was a 7th grade teacher who started giving me her favorite books when I was in 2nd/3rd grade. I still remember the day she handed me “Speak” (Laurie Halse Anderson) in 6th grade and the effect it had on me. I never really left MG and YA literature behind. As Little Willow stated so perfectly, I still hear the bell. :) I did read less in college, thanks to my abundance of reading of English canon in my English major. Since beginning this blog and joining the kidlitosphere, I feel like I have been reading amazing books. I have read books that I never would have heard of it not for the recommendations from my fellow bloggers. Thanks to them, the quality of books I am reading (and consequently bringing into my classroom) has risen exponentially. When I sat down to write up my “Best of 2007″ list, I was struck by just how many great books I have read. Choosing only a few to highlight was nearly impossible! However, I somehow managed to do it….

My Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2007

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree: Wow. What a stunning debut novel from Lauren Tarshis. I fell in love with Emma and Colleen, and Tarshis’ accurate portrayal of middle school archetypes. This was one of my read-alouds this year, and both classes really enjoyed it. This is my favorite book of the year.

Cracker: Cynthia Kadohata’s novel about war dogs and young men in the Vietnam War left me in tears. A beautiful book.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: As a huge Harry Potter fan, it was inevitable that this book would be on any list I made for 2007. I fantastic ending to one of the best fantasy series of all time.

The Wednesday Wars: A wonderful historical fiction novel, with a great male protagonist. A definite Newbery contender!

Into the Wild: Sarah Beth Durst’s novel was one of the first blog-recommended books I read this year. A funny, fractured fairy tale of a book that had me laughing out loud in many parts. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel!

Best YA Books of 2007

*note- I read a lot of YA in 2007, but most of it was published pre-2007*

The Book Thief: Life-changing. This novel should be on every high school’s required reading list.

Elsewhere: Gabrielle Zevin’s novel was thought-provoking and fun- what a great combination!

A Great and Terrible Beauty: Libba Bray’s first novel about Gemma Doyle sat on my pile of books for months until I recently read it from cover to cover. Did I mention that I read it in about a day? An amazing book, and I am flying through the second book, “Rebel Angels” as we speak. I love Bray’s writing style, her characterization, and the paranormal historical fiction that she so beautifully combines.

Looking for Alaska: John Green’s Printz Award-winning novel was one of the best books I have ever read. One of the few books I have put down halfway through because I couldn’t bear to find out what happened to the characters. Sadly, I didn’t review this, as I read it before I started TheReadingZone. But WOW.

Well, well well! What an eclectic list! Let me tell you, this was no easy task. And as I type, I am looking over at my very, very large pile of books to be read. Thanks to kidlitosphere recommendations, I know there are a number of potential award-winners in that bunch. I need to get reading!

Harry Potter OoTP Movie

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Last Wednesday, I rushed out of work to see the latest installment of the Harry Potter films. I am a huge fan of the books (and have been since high school….which gives you some sense of my age). The movies have always been ok for me. I usually saw them when they came out but the books were always my favorite.

For this movie, I didn’t re-read the novel beforehand. I’m too busy trying to re-read HBP so there was no time to squeeze in OoTP! I think that was a huge help when I was watching this movie. Instead of sitting in the theater, noticing what was left out, I enjoyed the film for what it is.

Let me say this loud and clear- I loved this movie! I thought the directing and staging of the shots were fantastic. The transitions using the Daily Prophet covers were a brilliant idea and really showed the political mood of the wizarding world without spending too much time on it. I also thought that the kids have really learned a lot about acting over the last few years. Daniel Radcliffe did a really nice job, especially in the Occlumency scenes and the final battle. I rarely enjoy a film’s portrayal of specific scenes more than the original books, but that does not hold true for the final battle, in the scene where Voldemort enters Harry’s mind. It was a million times better than I had ever pictured in my own mind!

The only thing I noticed missing while I was watching the film was that when the twin left Hogwarts in their blaze of glory, we didn’t get my favorite line. “Give her hell, Peeves!” That scene wasn’t built up as much in the film as it was in the novel, so I wasn’t cheering as loudly, but the rest of the audience certainly was!

Until I got home, I didn’t even realize Mundungus was not in the movie. Very interesting. I also forgot that Cho is not the one who betrats the DA. However, the choice to use her in the film worked in tha narrative that they were building. (Oh, and I was really uncomfortable in the Cho/Harry kissing scene. It went on way too long!) I also did not realize how little Kreacher was in the movie. However, I am, glad they left him in.

As far as casting choices, Evanna Lynch is my picture of Luna Lovegood. Her voice, her mannerisms, her ethereal quality were exactly the same as the Luna in my own head while reading the book. And Imelda Staunton was impeccable as Umbridge. As a teacher, I got a few chuckles (all by my lonesome!) out her need to teach to the test. A great testament to education in our world, too!

I have to say, I think this is my favorite of the Potter films. It certainly made me even more excited for this weekend!!! Only a few more days until we have all the answers! I plan to pick up the book at midnight and start reading ASAP, not stopping until I have reached the end. Of course, I have to attend a bridal shower on Sunday. Who has the nerve to plan anything on Harry Potter weekend????? Oh well, just more incentive to finish the book!!!!!!!1

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