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Saturday, December 10th, 2016
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A Harry Potter party

Sun, Oct 29th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, October 23, 2000

Harry Potter has worked magic in Fillmore County, enticing both children and adults to become passionate readers. And I, too, have become a Harry Potter fan. In fact, as each new book was released I had to bargain with myself. I could start reading the book only after I completed some difficult task I had been putting off. Because once I started reading I couldn't do anything else until I had finished reading it.

My mouth dropped wide open when Meredith Ruen, and her cousin Caitlyn, both 5th graders, told me they read the fourth Harry Potter book (now that's 734 pages) at least four times each. Then, in unison the girls recited two of their favorite passages: "To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure," they giggled, then continued. "I have gone temporarily deaf and have not a clue of what you were saying."

Caitlyn, her brother Matt, a tenth grader; their mom Wendy Wellnitz, and dad, Jim Ruen are all fans of J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. As self-employed writers, Jim and Wendy, like many other writers, wished they could have authored these books. "It had been a long time since I picked up any book that kept me up past ten," Wendy smiled.

When I asked how they got into Harry Potter, Wendy admitted that she started it. "One Saturday morning while perusing the library, I read the first couple of pages, checked it out and by the end of that night Matt had finished it. The next day Caitlyn wouldn't take time to eat her lunch and read all through supper."

Wendy beamed, "It has been such good family fun."

"After the kids devoured it, Wendy got her turn," Jim said. "Then I got my chance. Right away we made a rule. No one could talk about the book until everyone had finished reading it. We are probably the only family in Fillmore County with three copies of the fourth book."

When Adrian (8th grade) and Kelly (5th grade) Anderson talked about the wildly imaginative and creative world of Harry Potter, their mom, Maureen said, "I feel left out," confessing she had not read the books (yet).

Dr. Stephanie Jakim said that when she read the first book out loud to her children, her son Matt got tired of waiting and finished it himself. Stephanie had to patiently wait her turn.

The Harry Potter books have not only given adults and children a common subject, they have shook the publishing industry and the New York Times hardback best-seller list into creating a whole new category. When the first book came out it held first place for over a year, then when the second book was released, Harry Potter was number one and two. By the time the fourth book came out the New York Times Best Seller List created a children's books category so someone else could get a chance to be on top .

The Harry Potter books reach a wide spectrum of people, with a story line that’s intriguing to people of all ages. "The plot twists and turns, then twists again," Jim Ruen said, making circular gestures with his hands. "It's sort of like being on a carnival ride, first you go in one direction, then another."

"Each book got better, getting progressively tenser toward the end," Matt Ruen said. "The end is where the reader really cares about what happens to the characters."

"These books are about so much more than magic and mystery," Jim chimed in. "They present the universal themes of friendship, honor, trust and loyalty. The reader is witness to the characters growing, unfolding and become increasingly complex."

Matt looked away, "As I read the books it was as if I was one of the story participants. I could picture myself at the Hogwart's School of Witchcraft & Wizardry and shopping in Diagon Alley."

"I love Professor Dumbledore’s Pensieve bowl in the fourth book," Wendy said. "When the Professor can't deal with a thought he taps his wand on his forehead and the thought transfers into the bowl. The bowl holds the thoughts, organizes them and when the Professor is ready, he can retrieve the organized thought. Isn't that a clever idea?" Wendy marveled.

You are invited to a Harry Potter Party at the Lanesboro Community Center on Sunday, October 29th. At 2:00 p.m. on Track Nine and Three-Quarters at King's Cross Station, you will gain entry into Diagon Alley, the definitive shopping center for wizards.

Expect to see wizards in long flowing robes and I'm hoping some of Harry's friends: Hegrid, Professor Dumbledore, Her-mione, Ron and members of the Weasley family show up. I doubt if Cousin Dudley and the Dursleys will have the courage to come and I'm hoping Lord Voldemort stays away, but time will tell.

There will be Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Acid Pops, Cauldron Cakes, Pumpkin Pasties, Cockroach Clusters, Sugar Quills and Licorice Wands at the Leaky Cauldron Shop. Matt Ruen will be orchestrating the floor game he and his sister created.

"It's a pretty simple game," Matt said. "Just roll the dice and move along the floor squares."

As Meredith and Caitlyn said, "Harry Potter is fun." So do come to the party and don't worry about wearing a costume, come as you are -- a muggle. Once there, you will be able to make your own wizard hat and wand, then get a lightning bolt painted on your forehead, don the Harry Potter glasses and have your picture taken. See you next Sunday!

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