Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye Mr. Potter

For 10 years I have been sharing the magic of Harry Potter with my son, my family and friends. Tonight it comes to an end with the final film in the movie series.

As an anglophile, I've been reading the London papers every day for over 15 years. Back in 1997 I read an article reviewing a book published in the UK titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, it was released the next year in the USA under the title, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I thought, "Awesome, a book about a boy wizard, his magical school, the friends that become his family, mythical creatures and a terrible villain. A book my son and I will both enjoy, I can't wait to read it." My son was in grade school at the time and I can remember when he first started reading the books as well. His room soon turned into Hogwarts, his Nana and I bought him a Harry Potter bedspread and sheets, pillows, bath towels and posters. He had stuffed animals of Hagrid and the 3 headed dog. Before 2001 when the first movie was released there was very little merchandise available except the bed and bath collection I picked up at a Kohl's department store. I spent months searching for anything with Gryffindor on it, a scarf, a robe anything. The only options back then were crafters selling homemade costumes on Ebay. Sure enough once the first movie was released more merchandise was available including costumes and my son won Halloween contests dressed up like Harry Potter with a friend dressed as Hermoine. Fast forward 10 years and Harry Potter has his own theme park at Universal Orlando. The books really did come to life. I never imagined it back then.

There is a generation of children who grew up with Harry Potter and parents like myself who raised our children with the cultural phenomenon of the Harry Potter books and movies. When I was a girl in the 70's there was Star Wars and I remember the hysteria, the collectible action figures, the bad TV specials and the mania when a new movie was released. Star Wars may be the only close comparison but yet Star Wars in the 70's and 80's was only a 3 movie series, there are 8 Harry Potter movies in 10 years based on 7 books, a massive amount of merchandise and now the theme park. WOW.

As the movies have been released my son has been the same age as the characters, he has grown up with Harry, Hermoine and Ron. Now my son is 18 and starting his life as an adult, creating his own real life stories. But back when he was a little boy, his favorite stories were always the Harry Potter books. In 2001 I hosted my first Harry Potter party and tonight I host my last. 10 years ago my son and his friends dressed in costumes, we had themed food, decorations, trivia games and prizes. We would arrive at midnight at either the book release events at Borders or Barnes and Noble with a numbered bracelet on to await our copy of the newest book or we would arrive at the movie theater hours in advance and wait for a seat for the latest film. People would dress in costumes and over the years I've seen it all, white owls like Hedwig and lots and lots of Hagrids.

I'll admit I'm rather sad that it's ending. No more book releases, no more films to look forward too. Their stories are ending. Harry Potter fans know how the story ends but seeing it on screen tonight is it. I'm bringing lots of tissue.

P.S Reading helps out in a crisis...last week when my son had a brief stay in the hospital for a severe sunburn, nothing, NOTHING was helping him with the pain. Until I pulled out my Nook Color and asked him if he wanted to read to keep his mind off the pain and itching. Sure enough he asked for Harry Potter and luckily I have all 7 books on my ereader. He started reading the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and within 10 minutes he relaxed and it took his mind of being in the hospital.


Nan said...

Hi Shannon-
Your post describes my story with my son as well-what a great tale to share all these years. Went with him to see the final installment last night. I remember the day I was working in the children's department and the newly catalogued copy of the British edition came in the new acquisitions cart. A patron had been abroad and brought home a copy and donated it to us. I was so intrigued by the cover and copy that I brought it home to read and was hooked. And if you haven't had the pleasure of listening to Jim Dale bring the series to life, take one of the installments home today. His rendition of Dobby is priceless. Nancy W

Shannon Distel Scanlan said...

HI Nancy, thanks for your comment, my son and I have listened to the Jim Dale audiobooks, they are fantastic! Harry Potter has been an amazing experience. Glad you've shared it with your son as well. Shannon