Saturday, August 04, 2007

Harry Potter Week at our library

Yes, we're suffering from Potter Mania here in New Zealand, too.

The final book in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" went on sale Saturday, 21 July at 11:00 a.m. which is midnight in London. Buying the book at 11 in the morning is serendipitously convenient for Kiwi kids because they don't have to stay up all night reading it like UK and US kids who get their books at midnight. However, there were still some NZ teenagers who got in line the night before and stayed up all night on the footpaths outside Auckland's bookstores. Other Potter fans were in line bright and early, wearing various wizard costumes, glasses, and jagged scars on their foreheads.

I was less impatient, waiting until 3:00 in the afternoon to go to the bookshop, and I didn't have to wait in line at all. There was still a huge pyramid of books available. It was fascinating to watch shoppers approach the mountain of books, pick one up, surreptitiously flip to the last page, try to figure out who died, then guiltily look around to see if anyone caught them peeking. I shouldn't complain, though, for I did the exact same thing.

When I got home, I read the last chapter first (Spoiler Alert: Harry lives), then I started at the beginning. Some people are shocked when I admit that I - a LIBRARIAN - often read the ending ahead of time. I've done this for decades, and I don't think it reduces my enjoyment of a book. In fact, I enjoy it more because I like to see the path that the author takes me on as I journey through the plot to the ending. I also like to read magazines from back to front. But that's just me.

When I got to work Monday morning, many of the Potterheads had already finished it (I told them I'd read the first 8 chapters, plus the last chapter), and others were still working on it. It's an amazing and heartening sight to see groups of girls sitting around all reading the same thick, red book. My fellow librarian Lucy outdid herself with a new Harry Potter bulletin board, including twinkling lights and a broomstick flying overhead. I displayed my 6 American Harry Potter books, which all have different covers (here's US#6 vs. UK#6). And one book even has a different title! The first book was originally published in UK as "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" but the US publishers thought that "Philosopher" would sound too geeky to American kids so they changed it to "... Sorcerer's Stone." Who knew.

Leilani, our Library Prefect (that means she's the girl in charge of the library's student helpers) planned an exciting week of Harry Potter activities:

Monday: Harry Potter food for sale during lunch. I made Dragon Droppings (chocolate & oatmeal no-bake cookies). My colleague Lara brought Luna's loony chocolate (it was yellow and green). Students brought chocolate frogs, cups of gummy worms, etc. It was a big hit.

Tuesday: Leilani designed 5 Harry Potter pins to sell for $3 each. At our school, the girls all wear uniforms so there are limited opportunities to express your individuality. The only thing allowed is lapel pins. The more pins you have, the cooler you are. You earn pins by being on a sports team, or being in a musical group, or being a student librarian. etc. The girls covet pins. Some of the older girls have about 50 pins on their blazer, and this is a sign of status. Leilani had 100 Harry Potter pins made AND THEY WERE SOLD OUT BY 11:00. So she called the badge-making company and ordered another 100 for tomorrow.

Wednesday: Potter fanatics are in the library at 7:30 asking "Do you have more badges for sale?" "When will the Harry Potter badges be here?" The new pins arrive at about 8:00 and cause a stampede. Leilani arranges to order more, including a new design.

Thursday: There was a Harry Potter debate today at lunchtime. Some of the girls on the school debate team had agreed to debate whether Neville or Harry makes a better hero. The girls representing Neville did a gallant job, arguing that he doesn't get distracted by girls like Harry does, he kept Dumbledore's Army going when Harry dropped out of school, he was the one who cut off the head of the snake, and he was much better in Herbology. But the Harry Potter team won, arguing that he was better looking (like a hero should be), he was the first to learn how to do a Patronus, he was an outstanding Seeker in Quidditch, etc. Harry was the obvious winner. But it was quite entertaining. The Little Theatre was packed with over a hundred girls watching the debate.

Friday: This was the day of the Harry Potter quiz, which had been generating excitement all week. There were 20 teams of 4 girls each, and even a teacher team, including me! The teacher team (The Mighty Muggles) managed to get 32 out of 60 questions right, only because we eavesdropped on the teams around us, peeked at their papers as they wrote, offerred high marks in exchange for correct answers, and flattered the judges repeatedly on the answer sheets. Alas, it didn't help. These little Pottermaniacs knew WAY more than us. The winning team got 59 out of 60 answers correct! Our best excuse is this: We read the early Harry Potter books a decade ago, and have read HUNDREDS of books since then. Plus we're old and our memory is shot. The quiz was fun, though.

PS - I finally finished HP#7 Thursday night. It ended just the way I expected it to.