Roger Moroney: Harry's magic drew kids to books


I, and I think I can use the term "we" in this instance, have a lot to thank Harry Potter for.
He got kids reading.
Like our chap who was born a year and three months after Daniel Radcliffe who was cast as, and forever will be, Harry Potter the half-blood wizard in the films.
When the books started coming out and JK Rowling instantly became the new JRR Tolkien, the kids began to line up for a copy.
As did the adults, for that matter, with one's appearance at the gate at the end of the working day (and on the day the latest Harry Potter outing had been unleashed) being as eagerly awaited by offspring as the very release itself.
Children across the world would greet their mums and dads with great affection - gasping "have you got it?"
Of course when you arrived home the next day they were nowhere to be seen.
They were in their rooms bearing the expressions of zombies - absorbed by the goings-on of page 357.
And then the day after that, after marathon bouts of reading using torches under blankets until 3 in the morning and at playtimes and lunchtimes at school, they would finally return from Hogwarts to the real world with glazed looks in their tired eyes.
All they would say was "when's the next one coming out?"
"I'm not sure," I told our then 10-year-old on his making this inquiry.
"I'll ring JK in the morning and get the good oil straight from the horse's mouth," I replied excitedly.
Such jokes, however, fall flat with 10-year-olds.
For I arrived home at the end of the following day to be confronted by a small and quizzical face.

"Did you ask her?"
My wife, suppressing a smirk, didn't help matters by enthusiastically joining in.
"Well ... so what did she say?"
I put together some shambolic response about how she'd been busy out buying a Ferrari and a shipping line but going on the previous efforts reckoned it'd be about a year away.
Unlike some adults I could never entwine myself in the spell of Harry Potter.
The only entertaining thing I could draw from arguably the greatest literary series ever to emerge was that an anagram of Harry Potter was Perry Hotrat.
That amused me for a brief moment in time.
The whole deal was a phenomenon, although by the time the fifth film had come out our one-time aspiring young wizard had swerved off in the direction of hammering alien forces on distant planets and messing about with the bass guitar.
To me, the whole thing was kind of like the equally marathon effort of Lord of the Rings.
Oh yeah, another battle scene ... but millions of kids, some having even emerged from the teenage years, continued their adoration.
I watched, sort of bemused and bewildered, the remarkable scenes from the London premier of the seventh and final film, Perry Hotrat and the Darthy Vadars Part 2, which showed young faces contorted by sadness and woe. Tears and the wailing of girls pledging their love for Daniel/Harry for ever and ever.
No such adulation for his long-time wizard cobber in the movies, though.
It's kind of like the 80s duo Wham. George Michael and ... that other bloke.
On seeing those scenes of what was effectively despair that it was all over, I wondered how these kids would cope in a world where there was nothing more to read or see from the world of Harry, Hermione and that other bloke.
What do they turn to now?
I guess awaiting the arrival of The Hobbit just won't cut it.
Like the Beatles for a certain generation, Harry Potter cast a fine spell with millions and will never be forgotten.
And he was the only person on this entire planet who had the mysterious yet immense power to drag children away from game screens and into the pages of a book.
You can't buy that sort of power, which leads me to reconsider my stance on Harry, who I always thought was a bit naff.
Maybe I should have tried to get into this world of wizards a little more because very clearly, he (guided by JK Rowling) possessed true magic ... the magic of persuading children to read.
So, given this noble and invaluable trait, I wonder what JK is planning next?
I know ... I'll give her a ring in the morning and get the good oil straight from the horse's mouth.
Roger Moroney is an award-winning journalist for Hawke's Bay Today and observer of the slightly off-centre.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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