Aug 022005
Authors: KATE DZINTARS Associate Managing Editor

On its first day of release, so many people wanted to know the identity of the Half-blood Prince, that 6.9 million copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," were sold in America alone. The record-breaking sales are well deserved; the book is a superior read.

In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," problems in the wizarding world are so awry that the muggle world is starting to notice. Harry returns to Hogwarts School of Wizarding and Witchcraft under more security and with more caution than ever before. Dumbledore, the beloved headmaster, invites Harry to join him in private lessons. Harry tries to deal with a new teacher and Professor Snape in his regular classes with the help of Ron and Hermione and the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. He also has to struggle with the prophecy revealed in book number five, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

Rowling weaves an imaginative web of sorcery and deceit, but sprinkles it with whimsical interludes of wizardry and word play.

Thoroughly suspenseful, as soon as you think you have it figured out, Rowling contorts the plot in a way you never thought possible. Reader beware, the last third of the book gets downright scary and violent. Parents should read the book together with younger children. I also recommend rereading book five, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" before diving into this one, there are a lot of references to the previous book.

I tried to limit myself to a few chapters a day, but Row ling's writing is so enchanting, I could not stop turning the pages. I read the 652-page book in less than 2 days. You'll never believe who the Half-blood Prince is, or who dies.

The best thing about the saga of Harry Potter is that it transcends the age gap through J.K. Rowling's multilayered story telling.

Children can enjoy the books on a level that is purely entertaining. They see the story as a fantasy about a boy who grows up to be a wizard with magical powers. Rowling fuels the imagination by continuously dreaming up wizarding gizmos like invisibility cloaks and spell checking pens.

Older readers may see the book as a social commentary when they discover parallels between the "Death Eaters," wizards who follow the dark Lord Voldemort, and the

terrorists of today. The wizarding community lives in constant fear of attack. The Death Eaters murder people, destroy buildings, and curse good wizards forcing them to come to the dark side. It is hard to believe whom to trust.

Never mind the entertainment and social implications of the series, the educational value alone makes them a worthwhile read.

I had to keep a dictionary next to me to look up words like surreptitiously, envisage and fug. If this book can expand my 20-year-old, collegiate vocabulary, imagine what it could do for a child.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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