Here’s a post raving about ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ as if it’s the next big thing. You think I’m mad as a box of frogs – it’s not 1997 for Pete’s sake (yes it seriously was published nearly 20 years ago…).
Don’t worry, like anyone literate who has a pulse, I’ve read and marvelled over J.K. Rowling’s utterly incredible series of seven books about the boy wizard Harry Potter. I thought the films were largely OK too (never as good as the book, I don’t care what anyone says). But I thought that was it, that there wasn’t really much more ‘give’ in Harry Potter.
I was wrong. A couple of months ago, I was in Bags of Books browsing, and came across this stunning illustrated coffee-table-book-sized version of ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’. I flicked through, enraptured (I think my mouth was actually hanging open the whole time – glamorous). Illustrator Jim Kay has taken the words on the page and he has beautifully, sometimes hauntingly, and always spellbindingly given them new life – the impossible, somehow possible. There’s a wonderful YouTube video about Jim and his work on the book – it’s here.
Truth is, I’ve been struggling to get my seven-year-old to fall in love with books. We have started many series, from The Famous Five to Mr Gum to How to Train Your Dragon, but none of them so far have peaked his interest. This has been really frustrating and I’ve had to have words with myself about him being his own person and not having to love the power of language just because I do.
I’d always known, however, that Harry Potter would be different, I just thought it would come when he was older. But I’d also forgotten that the first couple of books are less dark than the latter three or four. And my son is a super visual kid, so when I saw the illustrated version, I just knew this was THE ticket to get him into books, and that seven actually feels like an OK age for it too.
So I planned to buy it for him for Christmas – it’s £30, so weighty in weight and in £££s – but then he had a tough week at school recently, and armed with a birthday gift voucher for Bags of Books, I decided that this was something to invest in now, so I made up the difference.
To say that the book has captivated him would be an understatement. The words alone would have done that, but Kay’s epically immersive images are an extra thick layer of icing on an already-delicious cake. His detailed visual descriptions of Diagon Alley, the cupboard under the stairs, and Harry at the Mirror of Erised – they lift the heart and fill it with sadness by turns. Even J.K. herself admits to being ‘moved profoundly’ when she first saw them.
Despite knowing I wouldn’t need to incentivise getting through this story any further, I made a promise to my son that if we got through ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ by Christmas, we’d put his little brother to bed early on Christmas Eve and watch it just the three of us. We of course raced through it (we went through a few mornings of being woken up at 6am to pleas to please carry on). We’re really looking forward to doing that now!
I think I don’t need to say much more – we all know the story and I have included just enough pictures to show you here how very special this incarnation of that story is.
I’m now in the throes of working out how to sew a wizard’s cloak for my boy, as he’s asked for a Harry Potter costume for Christmas and I found the most amazing fabric with shiny coloured zigzags all over it in a charity shop in Lewes. We’re also reading the regular chapter book version of ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ now – in fact, my very own copy from back in 1999 or whenever, complete with yellow pages.
So, Harry Potter mania has officially begun – in an extra magical way.
SPECIAL DISCOUNT AT BAGS OF BOOKS
Bags of Books in Lewes is offering Little Lewes readers a £6 discount on this version of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, making it £24 instead of £30.
Just quote ‘Little Lewes’ in the store and they’ll apply the discount. Offer runs until Christmas.
Disclosure: I bought the book for my son and then approached Bags of Books about writing about it as I think it’s so special. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or accepted for the writing of the post. Bags of Books emailed me after I told them I’d be doing it, to offer a discount to Little Lewes’s readers, which I gratefully accepted on behalf of you all!
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