Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

Read: 16
To Go: 84

Book List
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Though I just spent over six hours dissecting the gender norms and trying to prove that they were outdated and perhaps a little sexist, I don’t believe there are any real issues on that front, either.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.

– Kelsey

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2 thoughts on “Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

  1. Question: Is the Canadian edition the same as the British? Because in America it was released as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, and I, at first, jumped with unrestrained glee that you were reading the British version. But now I’m wondering if, in fact, it was a different version altogether for you or what.

    Not that the differences are anything more than subtle… I don’t particularly think anything was glaringly separate in either, but I heard that she was asked to edit out some British slang and/or words (such as “jumper” instead of “sweater”… etc.) which I for one find ridiculous. But anyways, I digress. The real question is: Which edition is this, Kelsey??! Inquiring minds want to know! 😉

    • I’m pretty sure it was the British version, because I can’t say I noticed any real differences or “Canadian”/”American” slang. And on my cover it had an excerpt from the Sunday Telegraph‘s review which I’m pretty sure is a British publication. 🙂 Though it did also have one from the Globe and Mail. But yeah, I think it was the original British version. :]

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