Sunday, August 13, 2000

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book cover: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling
Two books into the Harry Potter series, my husband and I am convinced that J.K. Rowling's books will take their place with C.S. Lewis' Narnia series and Laura Ingalls' Little House books, to name a few, as true classics of children's literature.

Judging from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling is a writer whose work gets better and better with each effort. With No. 3 on back order from, we're facing a 3-5 week wait before we can continue reading the series, but it can't be helped, I suppose.

Book 2 chronicles the second year of boy wizard Harry Potter's stay at Hogwarts, the school for witchcraft and wizardry. At once mystery, thriller and human drama, the book is a multifaceted gem. Disparate and seemingly unconnected elements tie together neatly as the story unfolds.

After finishing the book, my husband and I were left with a burning question concerning the character Hagrid. As readers of Book 1 will recall, he was expelled from Hogwarts as a student, and now serves as its gamekeeper. I won't say exactly what the question is, because I do not want to give away a major plot development, but I will say that I hope the question is taken up in subsequent volumes.

Younger children may find elements of this book frightening, but what better way to introduce them to the world's harsher realities than in the company of young Harry? Parents may want to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with their children, in order to discuss the more unsettling passages.

Having said that, I feel that I should address the "occult" controversy that has erupted over Rowling's series. I think that fanatical muggles who dismiss Rowling's books as promoting the occult miss the point entirely. Although they interact with very magical and fantastic circumstances, Harry and his friends possess very strong virtues of love, loyalty, bravery, dedication and cooperation -- all traits that are prized as the very best of humanity.

The Harry Potter books also are very moral ones, in which good ultimately triumphs over evil. The books also have a tremendous impact upon the imagination. This crucial part of the human personality needs to be encouraged, not suppressed. Today's children can be greatly enriched through an introduction to J.K. Rowling's creations.

The Harry Potter books offer much that is beneficial to adults, as well. Adults, perhaps even more than children, need a reminder of the wonders of imagination as presented in Rowling's books. I strongly recommend this book and its predecessor to people of all ages.

Posted Aug. 13, 2000 to

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