Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Potter Countdown Underway!

It's here again! A phenomenon of nearly bi-yearly cycle: the release of another "Harry Potter and the ..." book. This time is the last, however. The author J. K. Rowling has said that she would write seven books about the "coming of age wizard with the world on his shoulders" who just seemed to "stroll into her mind fully formed" on a train ride. One book, she said, for each year he was at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. This year he turns 17, is of wizarding age, and graduates from Hogwarts (where he has attended in the north of England) - that is, IF he lives that long! (See book summaries here: SCARPnotes).

His nemesis, an orphan Tom Riddle (masquerading as self-styled "Lord Voldemort") has tried to do him in, ever since Harry was only a year old. Seven times so far, if you count the first time when his parents were killed. If this book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) holds true to form, the eighth attempt will tell the tale; because, as it is "prophecied," "neither can live while the other survives." So this is it. Harry's mentor, Albus Dumbledore, was killed in the last book by an abusive "professor," Severus Snape, who has brow-beaten Harry for six years every chance he got. Fortunately, I think, for Harry, the wizarding world has several scenarios where "departed" individuals can exist to interact with the living. One such, are the portraits of all the previous headmasters which hang in the current headmasters office. It seems they can move, talk, comment and advise; and they are bound to serve the current headmaster. They can visit other portraits, of both other wizards and themselves, so can "inform" on happenings at locations wherever there is a portrait of themselves. Dumbledore has said that he didn't care what the ministry did to him "as long as they didn't take his picture off the 'chocolate frog' cards" (like bubble gum trading cards).

So, you ask, how does a pediatrician become so involved in Harry Potter? Well, it is children's literature after all. Actually, after the first book, if you recall, there was some amount of either "hype" or "discord" about whether or not Rowling's effort's were either "witchcraft inspired" or, at very least, not appropriate for children. Parent's of patients of mine began asking my opinion to the point that I felt that I needed to actually obtain one. I read the second book, which had been released by then, then needed to go back and read the first. I've read them all to date and somewhere, in the intervening years, my hobby of computer programming led to patient newsletters, then to a medical web site (Dr. Bob's Pediatric Housecalls) and finally a little site which gave my "reviews" of the Harry Potter books. Suprisingly, the web "hits" grew in number, others wanted to help, suggestions were given, even the Potter "franchise" grew; and the rest, as they say, is history.

The web site has grown such that this past week I've spent splitting the "literary" material away from the pure "potter-dom" stuff which has accumulated. So now when parents, or students, want to understand a Harry Potter book (its theme's, motif's, symbolism, quotations and context) they need only to go to one locaton: Dr. Robert R. Scarpin's SCARPnotes. All of my reviews are there, as well as complete summaries of the books, characters and literary background. Students can use it to do book reports, parents can use it to "catch-up" and talk intelligently with their children and teachers can use it in grading or testing on book reports.

Overall the books are good; but, some are for older children; and one shouldn't, I don't think, be read by a younger child alone, without at least some "debriefing," explanation or discussion with a parent. You'll need to go to the site for full information; and, the full epoc's theme hasn't been fully explained yet. Overall, however, the series is a "coming of age" story about a boy who has suffered some abuse but still still grown to have a "quality" type personality and who has been influenced to a great extent (we'll learn just how much this month) by his mothers love. All of which seems to be a refreshing change from the barrage of "crap" being flung at our children these days under the guise of "interesting" movies, television and books. I'm actually looking forward to the release of the last book; and, at the same time, that it is the last book.

1 comment:

An Ordinary Mom said...

I enjoyed "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows," but I don't think I would want my little children reading this book quite yet. I liked your idea of starting kids on Book 1 at about 9 or 10 and letting them read one a year from there.

I wish the epilogue contained more info. I think she leaves the door wide open to make more money off of future Harry Potter books.

I enjoyed your post!