There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Deathly Hallows on the bus

Finished reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the last of J. K. Rowling's series of seven spellbinding books. Harry Potter certainly made the bus and light rail trips to and from work seem a lot shorter for a couple of days.

I don't know exactly when I first met Harry Potter. It would have been after the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," was published in September 1998. It was probably close to when the second book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," was published in June 1999.

Since my son was old enough to have a bedtime, I had been lying down in his bed each night and reading to him. "Froggy Gets Dressed," "Airplanes and Flying Machines," "Are You My Mommy?" "A Million Chameleons" and on and on and over again. I worked my way through as much of the Dr. Seuss oeuvre as I could find. I still have 20 of his books on a shelf.

Eventually my son and I graduated to the "Animorphs" series by K. A. Applegate. The science fiction series was great fun. We would read a chapter a night. "Just one more," my son would plead, and we'd read another until he just couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. More than once we both fell asleep.

But then the kids who could morph into any animal they could touch as they battled an alien invasion of Earth were pushed aside by the power of Harry Potter's spell.

My son was eight when I started reading Harry Potter to him. The books make excellent bedtime tales with easily digested chapters and lots of surprises.

We worked our way through the first two books and then onto "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" in September 1999 and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" in July 2000. But then there was a three-year wait, and by the time "Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix" was published in August 2003 my son was 11, going on 12, and too "big" to have his father read to him. Unfortunately, all of my reading to him had not made reading easy for him, and he found the book and its 870 pages too intimidating to tackle on his own. I sympathized. I wasn't a reader as a child. But I couldn't abandon Harry Potter, and so I read the book by myself.

I read "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in July 2006 sequestered in a hotel room in Las Vegas while my son and the rest of his competitive soccer team were roaming the Strip after the day's games.

In "Deathly Hallows," Rowling does a very satisfying job of tying everything together and concluding the series. However, I don't recommend this book if you haven't read the other six books. In the earlier books, Rowling was famous for spending pages and pages helping readers catch up with details from earlier books that played an important part in the new book. Not this time. Readers of this final book are expected to remember Harry's experiences with the pensive and the room of requirement, the Basilisk and Horcruxes.

I wish I had an excuse to start the series all over again.

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