30 June 2005

Potty Over Potter

In preparation for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I have been rereading all the other five books of the series. I do this about once or twice a year anyway. It's hard to believe that back a few years ago I wasn't really interested in the series; I did like, it, but I was much too wrapped up in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy to pay it much attention. I purchased the books when they came out in paperback, which, any Harry Potter fan can tell you, was a long, long wait because the Potter paperbacks did not come out the usual year after the hardback novel as other books did. Scholastic was really milking the hardback Potter mania to the full.

I realized I had become hooked on Potter when Goblet of Fire came out. At that time Michael's craft stores were selling the Potter novels as well as little Potter geegaws like the Bertie Botts' jellybeans and the Lego Harry Potter pen. On holiday weekends Michael's always has 50 percent off coupons, and one holiday weekend (I can't remember which) I just gave up and bought Goblet. Later on, after James had read the first four books, I went back and replaced my paperback copies of the first three books with hardbacks.

We had a grand time when Order of the Phoenix came out, as the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company got together and did readings from the first four novels at the Barnes & Noble store at Perimeter Mall on the evening before the official release. At midnight, when the book was officially "out," they had been given permission to read from the first chapter. It was great fun: the cast dressed up in costume and there were prizes and games.

They are doing the same thing this year, but we won't be able to go. Oh, well, maybe for the seventh book. But if you're in the Atlanta area on the evening of July 15 and you're a Harry Potter fan, do make the trip to Barnes & Noble. You'll enjoy it.

By the way, I'm having my usual hard time getting through Order of the Phoenix. It's not, as some people have complained, because Harry is so angry all the time in the story (heck, if I were Harry, I'd be angry, too). It's a superb story—but so many dark things happen. It's like rewatching the "Who's Scott Sherwood" episode of Remember WENN.

01 June 2005

Meet the Callahan Cousins

I picked up this hardback children's novel, The Callahan Cousins #1: the Summer Begins in Borders yesterday. I've never had any reluctance to pick up children's or young adults' books if they looked interesting enough, and initially, I fell in love with the cover of this book! It wasn't just the shore scene with the white-steepled church in the midst of it (which reminded me of Newport), but because it looked just like the books I grew up with, the inexpensive hardback Whitman books that were only 29¢ when my mom started buying them for me in the early 1960s.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed the story, although there were a few times that, to me, that the four girls didn't sound like they were only twelve years old, and Gee, their grandmother, seems just too good to be true! (As in all these books, everyone has plenty of money so there are always swell things in the house. Gee's "beach house" is huge, has terraces, a boathouse, a huge pool, etc.) And the girls' nemesis, a spoilt girl named Sloan Bicket, reminds me a lot of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter books. But these are very minor quibbles; it's very easy to like the characters and situations.

Hillary Callahan and her three girl cousins Phoebe, Neve, and Kate, are all spending the summer at Grandma Gee's house on Gull Island, a privilege granted to all female Callahan cousins when they turn twelve. Hillary's parents have just divorced and she is desperate to prove that she is still a Callahan cousin. So when she finds out her uncles had an old tradition of planting a flag on a small nearby island, she is determined that she and her cousins will do the same thing. As the girls learn about sailing, tides, boats, and navigation, they also learn about friendship and old rivalries. The girls are all very "today," but the book is very nostalgic, harking back to those great old series like the Timber Trail Riders, Trixie Belden, and others. The next one is due out in September and I'm looking forward to it.