Further adventures with The Boy Who Lived

Harry Potter display
Harry Potter display, Flickr File Reference: 2016-07-26- IMG_5242

Cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneIt’s been about 18 years since I first met The Boy Who Lived. My little brother — he was about 9 at the time — introduced me to Harry Potter, and lent me the first few books. By book four, I wanted my own copy, so I bought it, and The Philosopher’s Stone too, with the book voucher Mr K gave me for our first wedding anniversary (it’s the paper one). When he saw what I’d chosen, Mr K said “what did you want that for? You’ve already read it!”  But I had to have copies of my own. And from book five on, I had my copies on advanced order at my favourite book shop.

I have the full set now, of course — the ones with those distinctive colourful spines that are so instantly recognisable as Harry Potter — taking pride of place on my bookshelf, now flanked with my very own wand made the other day at Harry Potter Day at South Library (Miss Missy didn’t want one, but I did!). And I have read them all over and over.

So when I first heard about an eighth Harry Potter, I was so excited! But then I found out that it wasn’t exactly going to be a novel, and it wasn’t exactly by JK Rowling, and…well, I had my doubts. Could it be as good as the others? Would it really — count? Did I even want my own copy?

Harry Potter Day at South Library
Harry Potter Day at South Library, Flickr File Reference: 2016-07-31-IMG_0169

Well, Harry Potter Day decided matters for us. As well as getting sorted — Miss Missy into Ravenclaw, and The Young Lad and I into Hufflepuff (the perfect houses for us all, actually) — making wands, and drinking polyjuice potion, we were treated to a wonderful storytime reading from Scene One of the Cursed Child. At the end, Miss Missy looked at me and said

After this, we are going straight to the book shop!

And we did!

Cover of Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildWe decided we were both going to finish the books we were already reading first, so we didn’t actually start till Friday. I took it to work to read at lunch, while Miss Missy had teacher only day, and finished reading Mocking Jay in anticipation. During the weekend, we started out taking turns with the book, but ended up sitting side by side on the couch reading on the same page together. Miss Missy was always just ahead of me, so there was lots of gasping and squealing, and then waiting for me to catch up. There was even occasional page-covering when it got too exciting (does anyone else do that?)  At 10 o’clock on Sunday night we had to force ourselves to stop, and on a cliff-hanger too!

If you’d asked me what I thought while I was reading Act One, I’d have said I was enjoying it more that I expected, but less than I’d hoped. Because I really had hoped that somehow, once I started reading, the words would scurry round the page and reform themselves into the kind of Harry Potter story I was used to. Magical as Harry Potter is, of course that didn’t happen. But after getting past the first bit, where I felt I needed the director telling me what he wanted so I could better understand the stage directions, not to mention my annoyance that important things and people seemed to be being ignored — and got to the REALLY good bit! Well! It’s just as exciting and magical, occasionally funny, a little bit scary, and a little bit sad, as any of the other Harry Potter books are.

I really have started to forget that I’m reading a play — even though the words are staying obstinately still — and just enjoying!

Harry Potter display
Harry Potter display, Flickr File Reference: 2016-07-26- IMG_5242

If you are one of the almost 200 people who’ve been waiting for it to arrive at the library, the wait is over! I unpacked our copy this morning, as did librarians all round town. And I’m sure you’ll enjoy too!

Written from the heart – Jenny Pattrick’s Heartland, our Community Read

HeartlandI wonder what it must feel like to have your book selected for the Library Community Read? To put your head on the pillow at night secure in the knowledge that all over Canterbury there will be folk propped up in bed, all of them reading your book.  Or readers will be meeting up at book groups to chat about it, and fans planning to attend events where you will be the guest of honour.

Because that’s exactly what has happened to Jenny Pattrick whose novel Heartland has been selected as the 2016 Library Community Read.

I know that I would be chuffed as, veering from inwardly proud to outwardly something of a pain in the proverbial. But it’s not going to happen to me. Instead, I get to read this marvellously heart warming book, host an event at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre which Jenny will be attending, and generally faff around getting caught up in this great event.

The Denniston RoseFor someone who only started to write at the age of sixty, Jenny has turned out to be something of a role-model for creative seniors and New Zealand writers in general. Heartland is her tenth book. Well known for her works Heart of Coal and The Denniston Rose, she is also the author of popular children’s book The Very Important Godwit.

If you’ve ever driven through any beautiful, small New Zealand town, stopped for a mince and cheese pie and an L&P, then  wandered over to the Estate Agent notice board and turned to your significant other and said: ‘this is a great little place, and look at the house prices – we should move here!‘ then you will love this book.

It’s got everything. But most of all it’s got heart. Or as Danny the main character would put it: WooHoo!

Find out more about the Community Read

  • Book chat, tea and tales with Jenny Pattrick. Thursday 18 August, 10am to 11.30am. Read Jenny’s book Heartland. Find out more.
  • Experience Jenny Pattrick’s book Heartland brought to life by The Court Jesters.
    Drinks and nibbles from 6.30pm. Friday 19 August 7pm to 9pm.
    Find out more.
  •  Join Jenny for a special interactive, toe-tapping storytime featuring the enchanting The Very Important Godwit. Fly in with the whole family to enjoy a musical storytelling extravaganza! Saturday 20 August 2pm to 3pm. Find out more.

Community Read