Large Print Reviews
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
By J. K. Rowling
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - June 22, 2001
When we least expect it - things get better, or at least they do for Harry Potter. Harry is a young lad, who was tragically orphaned while still a baby. With little grace, he has been raised by his aunt and uncle who have miserably mistreated the boy. For years he has been forced to live in a little cupboard under the stairs. Worse, he has been given only scraps to eat, and has had to endure taunts of his pudgy, and grossly spoiled cousin, Dudley.
All this changes on Harry's eleventh birthday when he begins receiving letters addressed to him, letters which are quickly snatched away from him before he can read them. But the letters are persistent and at last he gets to read the contents. Harry has been accepted as a student to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - you see, as things turn out, Harry is a wizard. Being prejudiced against magical people, his aunt and uncle had never told him that he was a wizard, or that his parents were also magical. With this letter, Harry's life becomes decidedly interesting...
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the first book in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. It was originally published, in England, under the title of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but other than the title, the two editions are the same. With this book, Rowling's has created a wonderful, magical world that will, and has, delighted both adults and children. Technically, the Harry Potter books are children's books, but you will be hard pressed to find an adult who does not find her stories enjoyable.
In the Sorcerer's Stone, Rowling introduces us to Harry's world. We learn that Muggles are people without magical powers, and that the world is actually chocked full of magical people. However, they are not allowed to use their powers too openly in front of the Muggles. We, along with Harry, also learn that his parents did not die in a car accident, as his aunt and uncle claimed. Rather, they were killed by an evil Wizard called Voldemort, who is often referred to as, "You-know-who."
The Sorcerer's Stone is, at times, a very funny book (what would you do if you got troll snot on your magic wand?) But this is no Pollyanna romp. When Voldemort killed Harry's parents, he also attempted to kill Harry and Harry still bares a lightening shaped scar on his forehead, a souvenir of the encounter. While Harry survived Voldemort once, Voldemort is still a threat, a threat that Harry is destined to meet before the end of this novel.
As well, life at Hogwarts is not all sunshine. Going to Hogwarts frees Harry from the onerous control of his aunt and uncle, but it also throws him into a world that is unfamiliar to him. For instance, gone are his days of having to learn algebra and grammar, now he must master such classes as Potions, Charms, and the History of Magic. Most of the children attending the school grew up in wizarding families and they are familiar with magical doings, whereas Harry is starting from scratch. At school, Harry is in for many shocks, the least of which is that the school is ripe with ghosts, in fact Professor Binns, who teaches The History of Magic, is a ghost. As well, the people in the portraits can talk, and move from picture to picture, and food magically appears on plates. Harry must also learn the proper use, and care, of a magic wand. When first arriving at the school, Harry is most poignantly made aware that he is 'different' because he has never heard of, let alone played, Quidditch - "The Game" that everyone with magical powers plays. Rowling goes into a lot of details about how Quidditch is played, but for our purposes, lets just say that is a type of ball game played on broomsticks.
As well, Harry is a reluctant hero. Everyone has heard about him. In short, Harry is famous for being the only person to ever survive an attack by Voldemort. Harry is a bit uncomfortable with this attention. However, at Hogwarts, Harry makes the first friends he has ever had. There is Hagrid, a man of gigantic proportions who has a propensity to love deadly creatures like fire breathing dragons. And there is Hermione Granger, a young girl of Muggle birth. Her parents are actually dentists, but for some reason Hermione was born with magical powers and hence was selected to attend Hogwarts. Harry's other new friend is Ron Weasley. Ron comes from a very large, and poor, wizarding family.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is an engaging tale. It will fire the imagination of any child, and will make adults harken back to the days when they still believed in magic - and will help put a little magic back into their lives. Along the way there is a fair dose of humor, some 'scary' moments, tons of adventure, and an energetic finale when Harry comes face to face with the sorcerer's stone and must make some very grown up decisions.
Related Book Reviews:
Back to top
Questions or Comments? Send an email to:
Copyright © Large Print Reviews 2001 - All Rights Reserved