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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
(Age 9+)

First published in Great Britain, 1997
Bloomsbury Publishing, London
ISBN: 0 7475 3274 5    Paperback       0 7475 3269 9   Hardback

[First published in the USA, 1998, by Scholastic, as 'Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone']

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first published in 1997, and considered by many to be a classic of children's fantasy literature, is the first book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. It is also the best-written and the most entertaining of the series.

Harry lost his parents when he was a baby; the only life that he can remember is his miserable and lonely existence in the home of his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and his spoilt and unbearable cousin, Dudley. But life changes suddenly and surprisingly on his eleventh birthday: Harry discovers that he is a wizard, and is whisked off to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he discovers a strange and wonderful world of magic and wizardry, the world where he truly belongs. Harry realises that he is no ordinary wizard, but the only one who can withstand and defeat Voldemort, the most powerful - and evil - wizard of them all.

The Harry Potter series have the appeal of the classic English school story, complete with house competitions, prefects, pranks and peculiar teachers. The added ingredient is magic, and the fact that Harry must win not just the house cup, but also save the world from Voldemort.

Despite the incredible popularity of the series, the books, in my opinion, do not merit a place among the 'classics'of children's literature. The books are a skilful remix of Jill Murphy, Enid Blyton, and cleverly, but superficially, reworked ideas from European folklore and Greek mythology.

But, as someone remarked, the Harry Potter books have done more to encourage reading among children than any other series. For that, I suppose, we must be grateful.

The seventh, and final, book in the series, Harry Potterand the Deathly Hallows, was released in July 2007. It was eagerly awaited by thousands of fans, who all wanted to know - 'How will it end?'

Our questions is - 'Did it end?' We think not. But only time will tell.

Rohini Chowdhury

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