In Search of Harry Potter
I’ve never read a Harry Potter. But JK Rowling is among my favorite living authors. I owe her a deep and simple debt – the love of reading, and literature, and story-telling that all of my children have embraced. Rowling didn’t do it all, of course; there was Seuss and Stevenson, Tolkien and Margaret Wise Brown. But she did cast an enduring spell – thousands of pages worth.
And now my youngest is on the second-to-last Potter, racing the clock till Rowling’s much-anticipated final volume is out. Like his brother and sister, he sometimes dons Harry’s glasses, slips into a Hogwarts robe, and waves a facsmilie wand. (And when he Googles Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, his mother and I know it’s time to install a search-filter). Such is the hold of Harry Potter on our book-filled household
So when I returned from the UK this weekend after a blogging/business trip to Oxford, the kids were waiting with their questions: “So Dad, was it just like Harry Potter?”Truthfully, I don’t know – I imagined it was, having seen a couple of the films, several of which were filmed there amidst the colleges and the gardens. My daughter recognized the cloisters at New College below as the scene of some troll-inspired mischief in one of the films.
I’ll admit, i don’t think the movies are very good – decent entertainment, some good special effects, disjointed story-telling, fine trove of British character actors. That’s about it.
The books, on the other hand, I love. And I haven’t cracked a one. I love them because they’ve instilled a joy of reading in my children in this age of a thousand television channels and video games. They’ve made reading a deep and abiding habit.
And i did find Harry Potter in Oxford. As well as Tolkien and CS Lewis. They were in a pub. i asked the taxid driver for the local they’d famously frequented together for 20 years.
“Oh, you mean the Bird and the Bastard.”
“I thought it went by a different name…”
“Oh sure, it does.”
And there it was – the Eagle and the Child.