To Go: 84
11. The Conversations – Michael Ondaatje
12. The Birth House – Ami McKay
13. Essex County – Jeff Lemire
14. Mary-Anne Saves The Day – Ann M. Martin
15. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp – R.L. Stine
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Right now, reading Peter Cameron’s novel seems so far out of reach because of all the class-related reading I’m doing. However, setting that book aside temporarily in favour of J.K. Rowling’s first HP book was no chore.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 11-year-old Harry Potter discovers he’s a wizard after having lived in a cupboard under the stairs at his aunt and uncle’s Privet Drive house; transported from his ordinary (and even perhaps cruel) life into the extraordinary world of magic, Harry must come to grips with fame he never knew he had as things start to go awry at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When he and his two mischievous friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, discover that someone is attempting to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from the depths of Hogwarts for Lord Voldemort, they do all they can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Obviously it goes without saying that I loved the book. The story is something that can appeal to both adults and children, the narration isn’t preachy, as is typical of a children’s narrative, and the word use is sophisticated despite the fact that the book was created for a younger audience. In my opinion, those are all trademarks of a great book. The characters are wonderful and interesting and definitely three-dimensional, and to be quite honest there’s nothing about this book I can say I dislike.
Though I just spent over six hours dissecting the gender norms and trying to prove that they were outdated and perhaps a little sexist, I don’t believe there are any real issues on that front, either. Hermione, the sole female protagonist, is an incredibly strong character – arguably she’s even stronger than Harry, both intellectually and, at some points, emotionally. To deal with the constant hits that she takes to her looks and overachieving tendencies throughout the series, she would have to be.
Yes, I would recommend Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to any and all readers. However, given its world-wide popularity, I don’t think it’s necessary.
Next book: The High Road by Terry Fallis, or Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron.
Next feature: my interview with Terry Fallis.