It’s no news that eBooks caught 99% of the population unawares. (Check out the article link in the next paragraph – boy, have we come a long way.) I’d say most authors got with the times, and most have now been e-publishing current books as well as backlists for a few years.
Except for one writer: Joanne Kathleen Rowling, aka the Woman Who Can Do Whatever the Hell She Wants. Seven years ago, she officially refused to make the Harry Potter series available as eBooks, despite rampant piracy – until last year, when she announced the arrival of Pottermore, a “unique and free-to-use Web site which builds an exciting online experience” around Harry Potter, and produced in partnership with Sony (according to the press release). Ten months later, Pottermore opened to the public, and hoo boy, the windmills start again.
What is Pottermore? It’s two things. First and foremost, it’s an online portal through which you can relive the Harry Potter books, see chapters and scenes gently animated, interact with the Harry Potter universe, discover characters’ backstories and behind-the-scenes tidbits, and engage with others in the Pottermore community. You can go shopping on Diagon Alley, collect galleons, magical artefacts, and Chocolate Frog Cards, duel with other wizards – oh, and you answer two nifty quizzes to get a wand and be sorted into houses. (My wand, by the way, is a 10-inch unyielding ash with unicorn core, and I am now officially in Gryffindor.)
It All Ends. An end of an era. The end of childhood. I’m pretty sure everyone in the industrialized world knows that the final Harry Potter movie came out on Friday (in the U.S.). This is it.
People of all ages have felt the loss, from children who weren’t alive when the first books came out, to retirees. I think, though, that my age group has felt the end more keenly. After all, we are the Harry Potter Generation.
This summer I had quite the shock when I discovered that my son’s peers could actually influence his reading choices at the tender age of eight. Clothes were already an issue, but poor, naïve me didn’t realize book characters also radiate a sense of coolness or lameness among the younger set. My world tipped when my darling son made the statement, “Harry Potter’s lame. Insert name of cool neighbor kid here said so.”
Upon hearing this, I began to sputter, ask questions rapidly, and get really, really defensive. Things like, “How do you know? Have you read Harry Potter? What makes cool neighbor kid an expert on Harry Potter? Harry Potter is soooo not lame,” all began to fly at my poor, defenseless son who really had no logical reply. I don’t count, “Because he’s 12!” as a logical reply, at least not yet anyway.
Long ago, before Harry Potter appeared on the scene, and even before the Babysitters Club made their first appearance, young girls read about the adventures of some remarkable girl sleuths. While there were a whole host of girl sleuths, the most popular two were Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. I read, and reread, both of these series, but my favorite, hands down, was Trixie Belden.
I spent many a summer tucked in our back porch, reading about Trixie and Nancy’s adventures. It’s completely appropriate, that the highlight of my reading summer has been the discovery of yet another girl sleuth. My recent glom of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series (okay, not sure if it counts as a glom since so far there are only two books), has me thinking a lot more about these original girl sleuths, and comparing them to Flavia.
Make no mistake, while the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series were written for children, the Flavia de Luce series is for adults. Although different, Nancy and Trixie’s lives were presented as fairly wonderful. While Flavia does have fun, her life is far from ideal. Nancy had a perfect, supportive father, and Trixie had a wonderful loving mother and father. In contrast, Flavia has a remote father, who she believes may have committed murder.