Category Archives: Kevin

Final Thoughts

New Harry Potter

Note from Ashley: My post about the Epilogue is still to come next week, which is why I’ve abstained from writing final notes, myself. I get an entire post to wax poetic about the end of this series and the end of this project, so it’s only fair everyone else gets a space, too.

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JENNIE

I’ve had so much fun with this, not only writing my own posts, but getting to read what everyone else thinks about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT: you all love it). I’ve enjoyed all the insights everyone has had that I’ve never, ever had in all of my rereads, and the discussions that followed, but my very most favorite thing was getting to see new GIFs I’d never seen before. You guys are good at GIFs, is what I’m saying.

Also, I can’t believe it’s over. Again. Sads. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be over here in the corner, rereading all the books and pretending Harry Potter is never going to end ever ever. Continue reading

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard: These Tales Are for CHILDREN!?

Beedle and his "luxurious beard."

Beedle and his historically accurate “luxurious beard.”

As a kid, my favorite thing in the world was to read fairy-tales and fables. I couldn’t get enough of them. At one point, I think I had actually read every single book in my local library that contained anything remotely like a fairy-tale. So yeah I’m automatically going to like this, but add in that it’s an extension of the Harry Potter universe, and that each story is followed by pages of ‘commentary’ discovered after Dumbledore’s death means I’m going to LOVE it. They also come with Jo’s own hand-drawn illustrations, so bonus! (If I ever got my hands on one of Jo’s hand-inked leather-bound editions, I think my brain might explode.) I know this is technically a re-read, but if you’re like Jennie and haven’t read it before (see below), you should track down a copy and read it. It won’t even take you an hour.  –Ashley

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Product_The_Tales_of_Beedle_the_Bard_Harry_Potter_Series_J_K_Rowling_4_2115769286“The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” — Lindsay

A wizard is left a pot by his deceased father, and inside is a small, single slipper. The Muggles of the town come to the wizard in hopes that he would be as kind as his father, but he sends them all away. The Hopping Pot manifests each of the townspeople’s ailments that the wizard refuses to help. By the time the wizard has had enough, the pot does all sorts of nasty things: vomiting, spitting slugs, braying like a donkey, clacking around on its single brass foot, and it’s totally covered in warts. Finally, the wizard goes to the townspeople and offers his services, and the Hopping Pot offers up his slipper for his obnoxious foot.

Obviously, this is a story for young wizards about using magic for good. The interesting thing is that it was actually taken out of existence later because it was so pro-Muggle. It’s sort of depressing that a story that had such an important message was destroyed because of prejudices against Muggles. Perhaps JKR was making a censorship statement with this add-on.

While this is a wizard fairy tale, we Muggles can have our own moral of the story: use our lives for good. All too often we go through our days wrapped up in our own problems that we can’t see the suffering of others. I’m not even talking about the obvious stuff- homeless on the street corners, sick person in my hospital bed. Suffering is often much more abstract and not worn like a t-shirt. Just as the wizard can make a Muggles’ day better by easily curing warts, we can easily make someone’s day even just a little bit better. It doesn’t require money or a ton of work or a bleeding heart liberal view- it may just takes a simple smile or a sincere thank you. A little bit often goes a long way. We are all fragile beings. We should act more like a team, rather than every Muggle for himself.
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The Deathly Hallows, Chapter 30: Minerva McGonagall, HBIC

Act 1, you put the hero up a tree. Act 2, you set the tree on fire. Act 3, you get him down.

This is the basic storytelling structure that was explained to me a few years ago, and while I’ve had a fair amount of instruction in narrative writing in my life, this is the one that stuck in my mind the most.

Sometimes I think that our generation’s childhood1 was the best childhood because the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s had some of the best stories for us to choose from. The first Disney Renaissance began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, and in 1992 we had Batman: The Animated Series. 1994 gave us two great seasons of Gargoyles, Toy Story started our Pixar craze in 1995, and Animorphs came around in 1996.

What’s the common denominator here? These were stories and franchises that not only knew how to captivate their target demographic of school-age children but also understood the fact that kids could handle deep storylines, dark situations, and disturbing connotations.

I mean, let’s take a look at Animorphs. Much like Harry Potter, it begins with a homicide. The books are mostly light-hearted romps in which the kids experience the joys of being animals, but they never let us forget that War was happening. People die. They kill people, they watch people die. They see loved ones be enslaved before their very eyes. They even explore how animals aren’t just cute and cuddly. One of the most resonant lines from one of the Cassie books goes something like, “And then I knew that the color of nature wasn’t green. It was red. Blood red.”

I re-read the entire series just a couple years ago, and it holds up surprisingly well. A lot of the references are dated (which the reprints tried to update to varying success) and the descriptions are very 90s and colorful, but the message holds even more true today, as we grew up into a world where war really was real, and just around the corner. The series ended right around 9/11, and the U.S. went into rally-and-response mode, which we’re still feeling the effects of even now.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1: Good Morning, Voldemort

Finally, here we are. It’s my honor to open us at the close. The final installment of the series, the culmination of every plot thread we’ve developed thus far. I didn’t specifically request to kick off The Deathly Hallows, but I’m glad it was assigned to me.

This isn’t my last post for the project – I still have one more for this book in early April, and I’m slated for an entry in the bonus book post-game series – but this is, for all intents and purposes, the home stretch. We’ve been through a lot together, you and I. My fellow writers here in this Re-Read Project. The others who have read along with us. We didn’t recapture the exact feeling when we read these all the first time, however many years ago that was for each of us, but we did have an all-new experience. Shared a lot of memories, told some stories of our own.

Additionally, this has been the kick in the face I’ve needed to get myself back into the writing groove1. The best way to improve as a writer is, after all, to write.

Thank you for being a part of this with me. Thank you for letting me be a part of this with you.

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I’m getting this out of the way now, instead of my actual last chapter, because I want to save the funny and awesome for that one.

Today, however, is going to be another serious post. Today, I’d like to take you into a world of implied backstory.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 14-15: I Put On My Robe And Wizard Hat

Prisoner of Azkaban, as I’ve mentioned in various comments here, was where I truly felt sucked into the world-building and became a permanent fan of the series, but Half-Blood Prince will always be my favorite book of the seven. There’s just something about the pacing that appeals to me, where it dives deep into backstory while at the same time gives us a realistic look at the Trio growing up as teenagers. Of course there’s romance drama. Of course there’s awkwardness as all three of them manage to be the awkward third wheel at various points.

In fact, that’s probably my favorite thing about this book. It’s there in all seven if you look, but here is where it’s the most prominent and simultaneously amusing and heartbreaking. Harry gets awkward when Ron and Hermione dance around their obvious feelings for each other. Hermione feels like she can’t relate to the guys on the topics that they enjoy the most: Quidditch, mostly. Ron feels like he can’t quite measure up to Harry when it comes to his amazingly strong friendship with Hermione – I may have been vaguely aboard the HMS Pumpkin Pie in various stages of my life, but I could still see that their bond was more sibling-like than romantic1.

But there is one thing I love even more than character development, anywhere and everywhere.

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We’ve gotten small glimpses into greater Wizarding society ever since Prisoner of Azkaban and more significant forays into their social dynamics by Goblet of Fire, but it’s here that we’ve been slowly seeing how Voldemort came to power. How Hogwarts was run in the past. How select other Wizarding families dealt with society as a whole and Muggles and Ministry in particular.

There are so many unanswered questions about the Wizarding World and its interactions with Muggle society, and they’re not likely ever to be answered because they have nothing to do with Harry’s story. Headcanon can only go so far, after all; I need more2.

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…maybe I’ll break down and go back to Pottermore. It’s grown a bit since I stopped.

TO THE BOOK!

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