20 years of Harry Potter


I can hardly believe it’s been 20 years since the release of the first Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It really doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long. Now, I admit: I wasn’t a fan at first. I found the first three chapters of the first book sort of slow.

But my rule in the Children’s Room was that you had to read the first three chapters before you could quit and bring the book back to the library. I’m very glad for that rule because I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary, the Children’s Room is offering two Harry Potter programs in July. Tuesday, July 3, will be Harry Potter Painted Stone Spells. I hope there will be a painted stone of Felix Felicis, the Lucky Spell. Tuesday, July 10, will be Harry Potter Jeopardy. You know, you are given the answer and you have to give the question. For example, this is Harry Potter’s house at school. What is Gryffindor?

Those were great times. I remember all the parties when the seventh and final book was published. Walmart and Barnes and Noble in State College offered the best costume parties just before midnight on Friday. Then, at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, the books, wrapped into one giant cellophane cube, were released and we made a mad dash, grabbing our copies! We read while waiting in line to buy it. I was up all night and didn’t want to be disturbed. But there was a picnic I had to go to. I ate my supper as quick as I could and spent the rest of the picnic in our car, reading. I had the book finished by 1 a.m. Sunday.

It was a great time! Better than New Year’s Eve.

We couldn’t keep any of the Harry Potter books on the shelves. They were always checked out!

Several months ago, Scholastic Publishers announced the Harry Potter series would be released with new covers illustrated by Brian Selznick, a Caldecott Award winner for his illustrations. So, I have a dilemma. Reread my old copies or buy new ones with the new covers?

Miss Kelly has been purchasing for the library the new copies of Harry Potter, illustrated by Jim Kay. He’s only up to the third book and, let me just say, they weigh a ton! Not a beach book at all. And the Selznick books are paperbacks and still have the original Mary GrandPre’ illustrations throughout the story. Miss Kelly tells me they are on order!

Alright, you already knew I was a nerd. The problems I have are not the problems other people seem to worry about. But I bet you, you cannot come into the library and stump me with any kind of Harry Potter book trivia.

Why Harry Potter? The reason I like Harry Potter so much is the theme of good versus evil throughout the series. Also, Harry is the little guy, the average kid, verbally abused at home, who cares for his friends and triumphs in the end. It’s also a little bit of our normal world and the hidden wizarding world beyond.


Susan Miriello is the acting library director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading “Skulduggery Pleasant: Midnight,” by Derek Landy. This is another series about magic, it takes place in Ireland, there’s a school for magical kids, and it’s also very exciting. Please, don’t bother her until she finishes reading it. She also wishes the Children’s Room would have Skulduggery Pleasant Jeopardy.