He is an ordinary boy. But he has made the world go crazy. Meet Harry Potter, the boy with the magical powers.

Where: Worldwide

July 15, 2000: Harry has a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright green eyes. He wears round glasses held together with a lot of cellotape because of all the times Dudley punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry likes about his appearance is a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. (excerpt from ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’).

He is an ordinary boy. But he has made the world go crazy.

Crazy About Harry [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
Crazy About Harry [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]

By midnight of July 8, children and adults all over Britain, the US, Canada and Australia could utter only one name: Harry Potter. A few days later, the Indians followed by storming bookstores to buy a 700-page book about the adventures of a 13-year-old English boy with magical powers.

The book is called Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Its author is Joanne K. Rowling. The book is the fourth in a series of seven books planned on Harry Potter.

Even before a single copy of the book was sold, newspapers were full of stories on it. Its title was kept a dead secret and then suddenly released. The original manuscript was kept locked in a bank vault so that no one knew what the story was. Bookstores were strictly forbidden to sell advance copies. And an eight-year-old American girl called Laura Cantwell became famous for just getting hold of a copy of the book before anyone else. She got many offers to sell her copy. But she refused.

Bloomsbury, a British publisher, has already sold 30 million copies of the earlier three Harry Potter titles worldwide. But the latest series has outdone them all. In a way, it has made history. It is the only book that has sold one million copies even before anyone read a line. It sold one million advance copies.

The book has set other records too. Over five million copies of the new book have already been sold. Online bookshop Amazon.com alone has received over 4,00,000 advance orders.

Hollywood studio giant Warner Brothers has bought the film rights of the book. The film will be directed by Chris Colombus, who directed the popular children’s movie, ‘Home Alone.’ Forty thousand boys want to try their luck for Harry’s role.

What is it about Harry Potter that makes children, and even adults, go wild?

It is because he is so ordinary, say some. Harry may be a boy-wizard with magic powers. He may have studied in the Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Magic, and have the evil wizard, Voldemort, for an enemy. But, he is also a gawky boy living a very ordinary life with his horrid relatives and spoilt cousin Dudley.

Some people don’t like all this craziness over Potter. They say the Potter books encourage children to believe in silly things like magic and witches.

This has made the Harry Potter fans angry. They have formed a movement in favour of Harry. It is called Muggles. It is inspired by the Potter books in which all the “non-magical” people are called Muggles.

Harry, himself, is magical though. He is The Chosen One. But in an ordinary, fumbling sort of way.

Joanne Rowling, the author, knows what it means to be ordinary. She had to look after her child. But she had no money and no one to go to for help. She created the magical world of Harry Potter and his friends in a café in Edinburgh, Scotland. She used to spend her days with her infant daughter in the café because she could not afford central heating at home.

Today, of course, things are different. She is not ordinary anymore. Her success as the creator of the ordinary Harry Potter has made her extraordinary. Even magical.

659 words | 6 minutes
Readability: Grade 5 (10-11 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

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