Monday, July 16, 2012

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Bibliographic Information: Rowling, J. K.  (1999).  Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone. England: Listening Library.
ISBN: 978-0807281956

Plot Summary: The story begins with whispers in the streets about a young boy named Harry Potter who has survived the attack of the most villainous of wizards, Voldemort. Having been the only one to survive, Harry is left in the care of his aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, Harry's aunt and uncle, the Dursley family, happen to be the "surliest" of types who do not care for anything magic and hide Harry's true identity from him for the next ten years.

Suddenly strange things begin to happen as Harry's 10th birthday begins to approach. Fearing that the past is beginning to resurface, Harry's uncle begins to withhold the mail and even goes as far as to try to hide Harry and his family on an island. Not being able to outwit the magical world, Mr. Dursley fails as Harry soon finds himself face to face with a past he mostly does not remember. Harry soon learns his true identity and about his awaiting education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is then able to escape the clutches of his abusive aunt and uncle and join the ranks of many other young witches and wizards.

Harry Potter quickly meets Ron and Hermoine, his future best friends, and is swept away in a world of classes, potions, quidditch, and magic. All of this is only threatened when a dark figure from Harry's past suddenly returns forcing him to fight for his life once more. 

Critical Evaluation: It is very clear that J. K. Rowling spent a lot of time deciding what to name the characters in her book. A name represents more than a way to remember each person, but as clues to their personality and character traits. To name a few: Harry Potter becomes the "Boy that lived," Voldemort becomes, "he who must not be named," Draco Malfoy is known only as "Malfoy," hinting at his high status in life and connections, and Hermoine Granger as "muggle born." In essence the names become metaphors for the characters, pieces of their identity that clue the reader into important information about the character. These vibrant representations of each character add a complex layer to the story and tell a story on their own. In a way each characters name offers a sort of mini biography on the character further developing their role in the story. These names so carefully crafted, provide a subtext to the story that sometimes becomes as important as the story itself.

Reader’s Annotation:
Having spent the last ten years living in a dusty cupboard and catering to the needs of his abusive aunt, uncle, and cousin, Harry Potter's life is suddenly overturned when he finds out the magical truth about who he really is.
Information About the Author: J. K. Rowling was born in 1965 in England (Rowling, 2012). She went to Exiter University for her undergrad, where she received degrees in French and the Classics (Rowling, 2012). She got the inspiration for her books while riding the train from Manchester to London (Rowling, 2012). She then spent the next five years working on her plot lines for her books (Rowling, 2012). Rowling then moved to Portugal and taught English (Rowling, 2012). Rowling then married in 1992, had a daughter in 1993, and then moved back to Edinburgh when her marriage ended (Rowling, 2012). Rowling continued working on her novels in England and published her first Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (UK version) in 1997 (Rowling, 2012). Her books were an instant success and have sold over 375 million copies worldwide (Rowling, 2012).

Other books in the Harry Potter series include: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2004), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), and her newest, The Casual Vacancy (September 27, 2012) (Rowling, 2012).

Rowling reading from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Adventure, Fantasy

Subgenre: Heroes and Heroines, Sword and Sorcery

Curriculum Ties: Could be used in a section about heroes, coming of age, and adventure.

Booktalking Ideas:

1). Do you think bringing up Harry Potter up in a non-magical world was the correct thing to do?
2). What is the role of family and friendships in this book?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Lexile Reading Level 880/5-8 (Follett's Titlewave, 2012)

Challenge Issues: This book may not be accepted in religious teen library's due to its witch and wizard subject matter.

1) Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2) Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - (  Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3) Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4) Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5) Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6) Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?:
Although, sources like Publishers Weekly and Booklist recommended this book for younger ages in 1999 when it hit the U.S, I do not think either at the time grasped the impact this series would have on readers of all ages (Follett Titlewave, 2012). Although this book may have been geared for the younger reader, it has also had a series impact on the teen audience that has grown up with the series. This book began an adventure that children, teens, and adults could and can share throughout any period in life. Rowling was able to create a strong, courageous character that can be role model for a reader of any age. Also, the wide array of characters of all ages and races appeals to a broad audience of readers.

Reference Page:

 Rowling, J. K.  (2012).  Biography.  Retrieved July 18, 2012 from

Follett's Titlewave.  (2012).  Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone. Retrieved July 16, 2012 from the Follett's Titlewave app.

Rowling, J. K.  (1999).  Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone cover art. Retrieved July 16, 2012 from

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