Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
From the publisher:
Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay’s dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters in this full-colour illustrated hardback edition of the nation’s favourite children’s book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Brimming with rich detail and humour that perfectly complements J.K. Rowling’s timeless classic, Jim Kay’s glorious illustrations will captivate fans and new readers alike.
When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
I admit it. When I first heard of an illustrated edition of probably the best known children’s book ever, I was conflicted. Yes, it would be interesting to see how Jim Kay’s imagination interpreted Rowling’s text, but this was a chapter book! What about the invitation inherent in chapter books for readers to use their own imaginations to flesh out an author’s words? I LOVE picture books, rejoice in wonderful artwork, yet I love chapter books too and a nagging voice kept insisting the twain should not meet. But hadn’t I seen the Harry Potter movies, and enjoyed them just as much as the books?
So then I opened the book and started reading. All my angst faded as I became immediately immersed in the story and pictures. Yes, the story AND the pictures. It was wonderful revisiting Harry’s beginnings, his life with the Dursley’s and adventures at Hogwarts. Seeing them through Kay’s eyes for me was just… different. Not better, but different, and very special. I was reminded all over again what a master Storyteller Rowling is. I was instantly in awe of Kay’s artistic skills, particularly the detailed images of places like Diagon Alley, the character traits he was able to portray in portraits, the fun of double page spreads like Newt Scamander’s Guide to Trolls.
However, Book Chooks are not the target audience for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I suspect this illustrated edition of the book may entice a new generation of readers to become absorbed in reading about Harry’s adventures. I hope our latest and visually-absorbed generation of readers will be attracted to this visually embellished story, and then be caught up in its drama, tension, action and humour. Because that’s precisely what it deserves.
Do look out for this illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s not cheap, but objects of great quality rarely are. To me, it’s one of those special books families should hold onto, libraries should share and schools should promote to kids. (Note to TL’s - wear wrist guards if you plan to read and show - this book is heavy!)
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