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Amazon is thrilled to offer The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, available for pre-order now. This book of fairy tales was written to supplement the Harry Potter series and will be published in two new editions on December 4, 2008.
Standard and Collector's Editions
The Standard Edition features all five fairy tales from the original The Tales of Beedle the Bard , a new introduction by J.K. Rowling, illustrations reproduced from the original handcrafted book, and commentary on each of the tales by Professor Albus Dumbledore.
Amazon is also thrilled to offer a luxuriously packaged Collector's Edition (available exclusively at Amazon) designed to evoke the spirit of the handcrafted original. It is housed in its own case (made to resemble a wizarding textbook found in the Hogwarts library). The Collector's Edition includes a reproduction of J.K. Rowling's handwritten introduction, as well as 10 additional illustrations not found in the Standard Edition. Opening the cover of the case reveals a velvet bag embroidered with J.K. Rowling's signature, in which sits the piece de resistance: your very own copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard , complete with metal skull, corners, and clasp; replica gemstones; and emerald ribbon.
"The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane."
Two major characters will not survive this time. So who will survive the final showdown between Harry, Dumbledore and the seemingly immortal Lord Voldemort? Rowling will say only that Harry James Potter survives book 7, and has no plans for a book 8. Even if there were, she says it would definitely not be a prequel. "It is all George Lucas's fault... I am sure that Mr. Lucas is doing it only for artistic reasons, but in my case I think that by the time you have had the 7 books you will know everything you need to know for the story." She says that you should ask yourself a question: why didn't Dumbledore kill Voldemort when he had the chance in Order Of The Phoenix? The reason he gave was "not the real reason." Dudley is a bit more prominent in the final story, but not much. "I think you need to look at your priorities if it is Dudley that you are looking forward to." And you can forget about that internet rumor that Harry and Voldemort will "merge" into one person. Remember, "neither can live while the other survives." Remember, too, that Neville's past is almost identical to Harry's, with one major difference. But prophecies "are usually open to many interpretations. That is both their strength and their weakness." The prophecy that Harry heard in Dumbledore's office suggests that both he and Voldemort have to die. Rowlings will say only that the prophecy was worded "extremely carefully." Remember that mirror Harry was given in Order Of The Phoenix and then hid away and forgot? He will remember it in this book. And Mark Evans will not be an important character in book 7. Really. He won't. 784 pages, a number which is of course, divisible by 16. Or you could just wait for the movie in 2010.
As of February, this seventh and final Harry Potter book was already a best-seller at Amazon.com in pre-sales; apparantly no fan wants to take a chance on it selling out in stores when it is released July 21, which is likely. Even the deluxe $65 edition is #2 on their chart, outselling Oprah, Obama and the previous champ ("You," a diet book). The deluxe edition of Harry Potter's previous #6 book sold 100,000 copies, a best-seller for a hard-cover. The deluxe edition of this one includes an extra 32-pages of art and illustrations, a custom-designed slipcase, and a "full-cloth case book, blind-stamped on front & back cover, foil stamped on spine." List price for the regular (non-hardcover) edition is $34.99 but Amazon.com is pre-selling it for as little as $18.89 with no promise that the price may not increase due to demand as the release date nears. Amazon also has a set of Harry Potter books for those who need to catch up on the story so far. Some stores are planning to sell the book as close to cost as possible as a loss-leader to get people into their stores during the hot summer months. So far, the 6 Harry Potter books have sold 325,000,000 copies world-wide in 64 languages. When the previous edition was released, it sold 6,900,000 copies in 24 hours, over half of its entire first-printing of 10,800,000. Fans do not recommend seeing the latest movie or reading the latest book before the previous ones, you'll be completely lost. So what happens in this final story? This one is "much darker" than any of the previous six. It is a few weeks after the last story. Lord Voldemort seems to have tentacles of power everywhere. If Ron & Hermione can help Harry find the horcruxes (vessels created by Voldemort to contain bits of his soul), it may be possible to kill him, but they are hidden all over the country. The man who has read all seven books for Audiobooks USA is sworn to secrecy and wouldn't even tell his own kids how #7 ends, "It would be like saying: I've got a surprise for you in the other room. It's a bicycle."
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
Star Wars caught Hollywood by surprise, nut not this one. Sorcerer's Stone opened on 8200 movie screens in the US, about one out of every four in the nation. Some kids had been planning to see this first Harry Potter movie since the announcements two years previous. Opening November 16, barely two months after September 11, many may have been as eager to see some magic escapism as 1939's Wizard Of Oz. A fantasy world very different from the realities that were keeping parents awake at night (recreated in the 1939 opening scene of Chronicles Of Narnia). Children weren't frightened by fire-spouting magic wands or knife-throwing chess pieces, having already read one or more of the Potter books. In fact, one 13-year-old critic complained that the movie didn't show Ron getting bitten by a baby dragon (from the book). But a 9-year-old gasped with delight when a character in a painting moved (shades of Young Sherlock Holmes). Harry is an orphan in Dickensian England who discovers on his 10th birthday that he has a wizard legacy and has been accepted by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On the Hogwarts Express steam train (which you can go to Britain and actually ride), he meets new friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, as well as Draco Malfoy--who comes from a "pure" wizard family and despises Harry for coming from a half-muggles (non-magic mortals) family. Harry is introduced to a soccer-type game played in the air on brooms, and quickly becomes the Gryffindor Seeker due to his natural flying ability. Then the Sorcerer's Stone is stolen and a monsterous 3-headed dog is brought to Hogwarts to guard a strange door. Lord Voldemort, the once-powerful sorcerer who was responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents and the scar on his forehead, wants to use the Stone to restore his full powers. The kids try to rescue the Stone, Harry is saved by Dumbledore, and Voldemort is denied its power.
Director Chris Columbus (Adventures In Babysitting, Home Alone, Stepmom) is faithful to the book, though much had to be edited for time. The $125,000,000 budget included special effects from nine different companies, and an all-British cast including grownups Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, John Hurt, John Cleese (who is not in the sequels), and of course Richard Harris as the Headmaster. Alternate title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the original book title in 1997). 152 minutes
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets
In his second film as Director, Chris Columbus doesn't have to waste any time introducing the characters to movie audiences, and gets right down to action. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson) investigate an evil force at the Hogwarts school, leading to a hidden Chamber of Secrets unknown to the professors and Headmaster Dumbledore. A strange impish creature named Dobby had warned Harry that disaster will strike at Hogwarts if he returned. Once there, Harry hears voices. People and creatures are petrified, and a message appears on a wall. Hermione gives Harry a clue before she is petrified, and Dumbledore is expelled from Hogwarts along with Hagrid (who was accused of opening the Chamber) Hagrid tells Harry to follow "the spiders," so Harry and Ron go into the Forbidden Forest to find them. Once in the Chamber, he fights the monster and finds Ginny Weasley petrified along with the boy who accused Hagrid while possessed by evil Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore sends Harry his pet phoenix, a magic hat and a powerful sword with which he defeats a basilisk and awakens the petrified people.
161 minutes. One month after its release to theaters, Chamber of Secrets was joined in theaters by Lord Of The Rings: The 2 Towers.
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban
Third in the book & movie series, the Prisoner of the title is a rogue wizard convicted of murder who escapes imprisonment, bent on revenge against everyone he blames for his conviction--including Harry. The first Harry Potter movie was preceeded in theaters by Shrek, which included a scene with witches landing to aircraft-carrier style directions. This one seems to give a nod to that early on. Anyway, the bad guy is Sirius Black, a very serious black magician. It was Sirius Black who betrayed his parents to Voldemort. Harry passes out in the presence of a Dementor who's also looking for Sirius. Professor Lupin, the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, tells Harry that the death-like Dementor has this affect on him due to Harry's horrific past. At Hogwarts, Hermione's pet cat is terrorizing Ron's elderly pet mouse, but things take a nasty turn when Malfoy teases one of Hogrid's magical creatures, a hippogriff (half-horse/half eagle), which is sentenced to death when it attacks him causing a minor injury. A black dog Harry saw before taking the Knight Bus back to Hogwarts attacks Ron and drags him into the Forest. Harry and Hermione follow it through a secret tunnel to the Shrieking Shack. The dog turns into Sirius and they determine to kill him/it, but are stopped by Lupin, who reveals that Sirius is innocent--having been framed by another animagi (humans that can take animal form) in league with Voldemort, living all these years as a certain pet rodent. Before they can return to Hogwarts to exonerate Sirius, Lupin finds himself suddenly turning into his animal form--a werewolf! In the ensuing chaos, a number of Dementors show up and one almost takes Harry's soul. Meanwhile, Hermione has been using a time machine to double-up on her courses, and uses it with Harry to go back in time to save the hippogriff from execution. Harry also uses it to save himself from the Dementor using a spell. They release Sirius, who flies away on the hippogriff.
Will this be Harry's last adventure? Not likely with so many more Potter novels left to film. Michael Gambon replaces Richard Harris (who died suddenly after the last movie) as Dumbledore. Music for all the Harry Potter movies is by John Williams. 136 minutes rated PG, directed by Alfonso Charon (A Little Princess, 1995).
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
Now 15-years-old, Harry is still the target of Lord Voldemort, whose family was mysteriously wiped out 50 years ago. The latest teacher of Defense Against The Dark Arts is a teacher with a checkered past named Mad-Eyed Moody, who may be someone else. Harry is entered into the TriWizard Tournamet and given three tasks in competition with students from the Bulgarian Durmstrang and French Beauxbaton schools. Harry loses the winning task while saving Ron, Hermione and the French opponent's sister from a watery grave.
Wormtail, Lord Voldemort's assistant, murders Cedric and resurrects Voldemort, who challenges Harry to a duel. Harry is aided by the ghosts of Voldemort's victims.
157 minutes rated PG-13, currently on cable TV including HBO & Cinemax
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
Movie release date Friday, July 13th, 2007 Order of the Phoenix movie ad, director David Yates. Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker's Dracula) returns as Sirius Black. After another run-in with Dementors, Harry and his cousin Dudley flee to Sirius Black's house, where a group of wizards including Professor Lupin and Ron's parents have formed the Order Of The Phoenix dedicated to defeating Lord Voldemort. The latest Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher is Dolores Umbridge, who looks a lot like California's Senator Feinstein and doesn't seem very interested in defense. She takes a dislike to Harry's little group and refuses to even teach defense spells. She then gets Harry, Fred and George Weasley kicked off the Gryffinder Quidditch team.
Harry and some other students, including Hermione, Ron, and new "friend" Cho Chang, form Dumbledore's Army, a secret society dedicated to fighting the dark arts. Harry begins having strange dreams and Dumbledore warns him to stay vigilant against Voldemort's mind games. He sends Harry to Professor Snape for work on the teachings of Occlumency to fight Voldemort's power. Dumbledore takes on Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic, and Sirius is killed by a cousin in league with Voldemort. Voldemort escapes, but Dumbledore tells Harry that he has a power Voldemort doesn't know about--the Force? No, the power of love. When Harry's mom died protecting him, she left a legacy of love that shields him from Voldemort's evil.
Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
Professor Snape vows to protect and aid Draco even as Voldemort assembles an army of Death Eaters. Snape becomes the latest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and his vacant Potions post is filled by Dumbledore's friend and former Slytherin House Head, Horace Slughorn, whose favorite student in the past was Lily Evans (Harry's mother). Hermione and Ron let go of past grudges after an accidental poisoning, and Harry sees Ginny Weasley in a new light after the rather awkward end of his relationship with Cho Chang. Harry becomes a star pupil in the Potions class thanks to mysterious notes from someone signed "The Half-Blood Prince." But is he a friend or foe? Dumbledore and Harry discover that Voldemort is kept alive (and immortal) by seven objects including Tom Riddle's magic diary (from Chamber of Secrets). When these objects are destroyed it will end Lord Voldemort. When Voldemort forces Draco Malfoy to attack Dumbledore, Snapes' Unbreakable Vow to Draco's mother drives him to kill Dumbledore to protect Draco. Harry then battles Snape, who escapes, after revealing that he is the Half-Blood Prince. Harry decides to take on Voldemort himself and cuts ties to Ginny to protect her. This story will become a movie in 2008. Ron and Hermione pledge to stay with Harry in his deadly quest in the 7th and final story. Reserve your copy of the 7th book now at Amazon.com
Preceeding the Harry Potter movies and even books (perhaps this was J.K. Rowling's inspiration), in this one Harry Potter Junior's apartment building (filmed in Italy, set in America) is being taken over by an evil troll who is turning it into a primeval jungle world. A good witch who lives upstairs (June Lockhart) gives Harry a magic sword, then tells her singing mushroom that it's time to again battle her ancient enemy. She transforms into her younger self (played by real-life daughter Anne Lockhart of Battlestar Galactica fame) and helps Harry stop the troll's plans. Cast incudes Noah Hathaway (Neverending Story), Shelley Hack (as Harry's mom), Michael Moriarty (as Harry Potter Sr.), Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Monstervision review & host segments for Troll. More recently, "Halloweentown 4: Witch University" (2006 TV-movie), the latest of the Tim Burton-inspired movie series, takes place in a university for witches, geniis, trolls, etc. Any resemblance to Hogwarts is purely intended, I'm sure. Halloweentown movies page
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
In October 2006, on Friday the 13th, the 13th and last book the Lemony Snicket series was released. The first 12 had already sold over 50,000,000 copies worldwide in 7 years and spawned a movie. Daniel Handler created the pen name Lemony Snicket because he didn't know what people would think of a children's novel about terrible things happening to a family of orphans. He still thinks it's odd to "get off a plane in Italy or New Zealand to find that there are people there who have very specific questions about books that you have written. That's a strange feeling." He warns the readers that they should "find something nider to read," then hides literary and historical allusions for those who stay. Entire websites are set up to mine for the hidden clues and their possible meanings.
In the 13th book for example, the three Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) end up on an island after a harrowing ocean journey with the vicious Count Olaf. When they meet the island leader, he says, "Call me Ish," which of course is short for Ishmael. "There are people who get these references and...people who don't... One of the delights of touring around for the 12th book ("The Penultimate Peril," the next to last) was hearing the number of children explain to adults what the word 'penultimate' meant." The 13th book ("The End") has a first printing of 2,500,000 copies. A bookstore in Berkeley, CA, has a simple plan for selling them: "Stack the books up high and get out of the way." Meanwhile, Handler has also released his third non-children's book "Adverbs," a collection of "stories of love and other dark emotions." The advance edition of the 13th Lemony Snicket was sent to reviewers with the final two chapters missing (just as the children face a situation involving poisonous mushrooms). When the author was asked how it ends, he considered the question gravely and told the Associated Press interviewer, "Ambiguously." But if you thought that was the end of Lemony Snicket, all he has to say is Horseradish
Lemony Snicket availability on DVD and books from Amazon.com
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If you are not American, here is our link to the Amazon.co.uk website
* In August 2006, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and John Irving had a reading at New York's Radio City Music Hall for charity (including Doctors Without Borders), called "An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp." Signed copies of their books were also available for a $1000 donation to the charities. By the way, all e-book versions of Harry Potter sold on Ebay are fake. So far, Ebay has ignored all protests from J.K. Rowling, nor have they removed for sale fake signed-editions of books & posters, whose picture online bears no relation to Rowling's autograph. Someone even claimed they had an copy of the fake unauthorized biography of J.K. Rowling autographed by J.K. Rowling! Ebay says it's up to the buyers to determine authenticity (ie: buyer beware). Rowling says that Harry Potter Audiobooks sold on Ebay do not even seem to be based on actual Harry Potter books! Official J.K.Rowling audiobooks are available only on iTunes. To see the real one on her home page, animated as she wrote it, go to www.jkrowling.com
* Harry Potter has a wand made of Holly wood. Voldemort has one made of Yew. In European tradition, the holly tree means "holy" and repels evil. The yew tree can live as much as 2000 years but has poisonous sap and symbolizes death. The Celts assigned trees to each month, so Ron's wand is ash and Hermione's is vinewood (due to their birthdays). Hagrid has one of oak, which symbolizes strength and protection. This information is not in any of the Harry Potter books.
* So many fans asked how Hermione was pronounced, it became part of the dialogue in Goblet Of Fire so people would stop asking Rowling in person. Gilderoy Lockhart is the only character based on an actual person. In real life, "Gilderoy" (not his real name) was so obnoxious, Rowling actually says she toned down his personality for fiction. She knew him for 2 years and says he was not an ex-husband.
* The cat Crookshanks, based on an actual cat seen in London in 1980, is a Kneazle (if you don't know what a Kneazle is, buy Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, all royalties go to the world's poorest children).
* The British version of "Philosopher's Stone" book is slightly shorter than the American version. The British editor thought it was a bit too long and "pruned everything that he thought was surplus." For example, the description of what Dean Thomas looks like is missing from the British version, but was used for casting him in the movie. By the way, Dean's father was a wizard who was killed by the Death Eaters when he refused to join them, so he was raised by his mother and stepfather (Dean says this was cut from both US & British published versions).
* Nicholas Flamel is also mentioned in The Da Vinci Code. He was a real person who lived in 14th-century France. It was said that he discovered how to make a philosopher's stone. Streets in Paris are still named after him and his wife Perenelle.
* Flitwick is short because his great-great-grandfather was a goblin. This is not in any of the books (edited out before publication). The film decided to emphasize this and make him more than just a short man.
* J.K. Rowling was a research assistant for Amnesty International for a while, and taught French (in Scotland) and English (in Portugal), before writing full time. She wrote her first story (about a rabbit named Rabbit) at age 6.
* The Mail (a British newspaper) said in 2002 that J.K. Rowling's income of $77,000,000 for the year was 6 times the Queen's income.
"Harry Potter" availability on DVD and of course books from Amazon.com (no new DVDs will be made in 2007 due to the new movie & book coming out, but previous ones are still available online)
Harry Potter 2007 movie theatrical trailer (click twice to play)
Wait until background music stops or click here to stop music manually
Harry Potter of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (this one's a fake movie trailer but quite funny)
Fun fact: Joanne Rowling (her real name, rhymes with bowling) has no middle name. Her publisher in England said books by women don't sell well to boys, so she became J.K. Rowling. Her book's first printing in 1997 was less than 1000 copies. She says the K stands for Kathleen, her paternal grandmother.