Harry Potter

"For Kids Who Need `Harry Potter'"

by Erica Noonan (Associated Press, April 19, 2000)

BOSTON (AP) - Kids are clamoring for another installment of Harry Potter, the unlikely young hero of the smash adventure series by J.K. Rowling.
But book four in the series, ``Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament,'' published by Arthur A. Levine, isn't due out until July 8. That's just three months for grownups, but it might as well be an eternity for kids who cite the adolescent magician as their main inspiration for reading.
``Harry Potter is still a major topic of conversation,'' said Becky Whidden, manager of The Children's Book Shop in Brookline, Mass. ``Kids want another book and parents want to keep their kids interested in books.'' So booksellers are doing their best to interest young readers in other works that have similar themes of magic, fantasy and adventure.
For some, it's the perfect opportunity to revisit classic fantasy books that captivated children way before Harry Potter was a gleam in Rowling's eye.
For kids ages 10 and up, ``The Chronicles of Narnia'' series (HarperCollins) by C.S. Lewis is a must-read, said Whidden. First released half a century ago, the stories about a set of British siblings in a magical land blended religious themes and mysticism.
Kids who love books are being steered to classics like ``A Wrinkle in Time'' (Yearling) by Madeleine L'Engle, and J.R.R. Tolkien's ``Lord of the Rings'' series (Ballantine). T.H. White's ``The Once and Future King'' (Ace Books), about the adventures of Merlin and King Arthur, and Susan Cooper's award-winning ``The Dark Is Rising'' series published by Aladdin Books are other options for Harry Potter-crazed young adults, Whidden said.
Kids under 10, too, can be wooed with fantasy-type books featuring child heros who remind them of Harry.
Second- and third-graders may enjoy ``The Dragonslayers Academy'' series (Grosset & Dunlap), about a boy attending school to slay dragons. Kids who read on a fourth- to sixth-grade level might like the ``Half Magic'' series (Harcourt Brace) by Edward Eagar, or Jon Scieszka's ``Time Warp Trio'' adventures (Puffin).
``Kids love them, they're hilarious and they can read them on their own. Kids that age can't always read Harry Potter,'' Whidden said.
Other fantasy-adventures worth exploring include ``The Last Unicorn'' (New American Library) by Peter Beagle.
At San Marino Toy and Book Shop, where 1,500 people turned out last year for a J.K. Rowling signing, dozens of customers have already pre-ordered book four, which is expected to weigh in at a hefty 700 pages. The anticipated price tag is $25.95 a copy.
The store plans to throw a ``Midnight Madness'' party from midnight to 2 a.m. on July 8 so customers can pick up their books immediately.
``We've had parents who said their kids blew through Harry Potter and now they're having trouble,'' said store manager Anne McGann. ''(Harry Potter) is a tough act to follow. ... The books got kids to read, which is a blessing, but there's been nothing since to grab their attention.''
Until the new Harry hits the shelves, McGann said, she's been turning kids on to books like ``The Thirteenth Floor'' (Yearling) by Sid Fleichman, as well as older favorites by Roald Dahl and fantasy master Lloyd Alexander.
McGann said Eva Ibbitson's ``The Secret of Platform 13'' (Puffin Books) and books like ``A Series of Unfortunate Events,'' a HarperTrophy series about a family of orphans by Lemony Snicket, are also hits.
Other popular fantasy titles for kids as old as 14 include ``The Golden Compass'' (Del Ray) by Philip Pullman, and ``The Castle in the Attic,'' one book in a time-traveling series by Elizabeth Winthrop from Yearling Books, she said.