Saturday, December 23, 2006

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

Recently, a teacher wanted her students to read a book she liked. Given their past comments, she felt she would face considerable opposition when she asked them to read it. So, she told them the outline of the book:

The book is about a young orphan, she told them. He lives with his relatives, who hate him. But as he grows up, he realizes his potential. He meets new friends at his school, and learns about friendship, loyalty and other values. He excels at his favourite sport. Then, there is a mass-murderer on the loose, who has killed the hero's parents.

Then she asked them to write a page about whether they would like to read the book, and what will happen at the end.

After they had written in unison about what an interesting book it would be, she told them the name of the book: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. (this was before the movie was released)

Now, I thought it would be a good idea to ask you to give your comments before reading the last paragraph, so that I can call your bluff when you say in your comments how you don't find the books interesting. But it is not feasible. Instead, I am sure I can safely assume that there is at least one element everybody found in that story which appealed to you, and made you to read further. It's not just a kids' book you know...

As millions of fans around the world (reading in many languages) will tell you, the series is about how an orphan, left on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle finds about himself and his past, and his role in his world. When he enters the school, he is totally ignorant about everything in his past. But then, the most important lesson he learns is that, it's your choices and not your skills that determine what you are. It's not just about magic you know...

The series is also about Hermione Granger, who has magical skills despite being born to “normal” human parents, and even then, she is the cleverest of their class (in fact, in the whole school). It is about how you need not have blue blood in your veins to excel in whatever you do. It is also about Ron, and how friends are loyal to each other despite being overshadowed by your friends at every step. It is also about how size is not an indicator of power, and how there is something more than just academic excellence in life. The series is also about how it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. About how values like loyalty, friendship, bravery are important in life. It's not just about witchcraft you know...

The series is also about Prof. Dumbledore, the most powerful person in Harry's world. He is aware of his powers, but that does not make him lose contact with his students, and he is as funny as best of them. He tries to teach his students the difference between “being dragged in to face lions and entering the arena with your head held high”. He is the person who believes in giving second chance to even the worst persons and criminals, and sees the good in everybody. It's not just about Harry Potter you know...

Any person of any age who is reading these books finds something to interest him in it. There is brave Harry, with his friends, Ron who is a loyal friend, and Hermione who is the bookish. There is Gred and Forge (sorry, Fred and George) Weasleys, the Troublemakers-in-Chief of the school. In their own words, their pranks are “so many that it is hard to keep track of sometimes”. Then there is Dumbledore, who is the most powerful person in the world, yet he enjoys sherbet lemon, lemon drops, and is funny enough to match Fred and George. These do not even cover the complete list of “good” characters, and I haven't yet started on the bad ones yet.

It shows in every page, every paragraph that J. K. Rowling has the complete story in her head from the start. There are clues enough in spread everywhere, which show you the way story will go (and make you go, “so that's what that meant” when you come across the explanation of the clue sometime later, many times in some other book). Just to give an example, a character in book 5 mentions, “" the solstice will come a new... and none will come after..." There were a lot of discussions about what this meant in the fandom. The title of the seventh (and last) book of the series was announced on JKR's website this winter solstice (21st Dec).

I guess at this point, it should save me a lot of words to mention that these are books (along with PuLa's books I mentioned earlier) which are beyond Book(?)...err scale. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is The Book I am waiting for...

For all those people who want to start reading (come on, admit it guys), I will recommend that the best book of the series till now is “Prisoner of Azkaban” (and each book contains enough back story to read independently), but then, it is always a good idea to start at the very beginning.

P.S. For all those people still saying that this is kids' book, about magic and all, please count the number of times I needed to mention magic, spells, witchcraft etc. to tell you about the books.

P.P.S. For all the "grown-ups", there are adult editions of the books too.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

"E for 'Exceeds Expectations. And I've always thought Fred and I should've got E in everything, because we exceeded expectations just by turning up for the exams."
- George Weasley