Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Favorite Books: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This installment of My Favorite Books is all about the first book in a series that I resisted reading for a long time. I'm not sure why I did not pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  by J.K. Rowling until 2000 or so. I suppose it was because the series was so wildly popular. I'm naturally suspicious of overly popular things, preferring to find hidden treasures on my own. Harry Potter was too accessible, too easy. Perhaps there was a little bit of jealousy there, too. After all, here was someone that had achieved my dream--to be a middle grade fantasy author, and a wildly successful one at that.

Old Cover
Finally, I broke down and read the first book. I was transfixed. After racing through it, I kicked myself for waiting so long to read it. It has everything I love--a boy who does not realize how special he is until a magical (literally) world is revealed to him, magic, friendship, fantasy, and all those owls at the beginning! Rowling did a truly masterful job of reinventing well worn elements of myth and legend, fantasy and magic, creating something brand-spanking new. I could only tip my hat to her.

I love the fact that Harry is a down and out kid, unloved, unwanted and unnoticed, who finds friends in the most strange and wonderful circumstances. I also love that he then has to prove himself and overcome challenges that help him grow. Simply brilliant stuff.

I loved all the books, some more so than others, but each one was a revelation. This series more than any other brought me back to reading middle grade/YA fantasy again.

New Cover
More importantly, it was one of the factors that got me thinking about actually sitting down and writing a middle grade novel. I had never really believed that I could write a full length book, having only written short stories and poetry until that point.  But Harry Potter had stirred my imagination, and I started tossing around ideas in my head.

Being a slow starter, it took a year or so until I actually hit upon something I liked. When my son Christian was born early in 2002, I decided that the time had come, and began writing what would become The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. At the beginning, I had some vague idea of a series, but I just wanted to see if I could write an entire novel. I did, and now I'm working on book 3!

These books are proof that children still love to read, even in this age of smart phones, video games and the internet. Of course, I daresay that any teacher could have to me that, but I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to J.K. Rowling for reminding the general public that books are still the best way to get our kids' imagination soaring.


  1. I waited to read HP, too! A student convinced me I had to read it. I was smitten with the series as soon as I started. I read the first 3 within a week and then had to wait a few months for the 4th book (and then the pattern of waiting started). JK Rowling is a master storyteller and so inspiring. Glad she inspired you, too!

    1. I'm glad I wound up reading the series. I'd kind of like to see how Harry's children make out at Hogworts in the future. Glad to know I wasn't the only one who took a while to read the series!