Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic Press, $17.95 --available in paperback 9/7)
ISBN 0-590-35340-3
*****
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is already a modern-day classic, and deservedly so. Newcomer Joanna Rowling has created a sensation with the tale of orphaned Harry Potter. In this, the first Harry book, readers will be treated to a story that's as endearing as it is enthralling.

We first meet Harry as he is being delivered to his aunt and uncle's house, a baby swathed in blankets and chaperoned by a giant named Hagrid. The Dursley's are his only relatives, and a more unpleasant family would be hard to find. Whiny Aunt Petunia and beefy Uncle Vernon dote on their obnoxious son Dudley, a piggish lout of a child. They make Harry's life miserable for ten long years. Then one day day he starts receiving letters from Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Dursley's go to hilarious lengths trying to keep Harry's letters from him, but Hagrid comes to the rescue and tells Harry the truth.

Harry is a wizard.

Not only is he a wizard, Harry is famous among magic folk for surviving an attack by an evil wizard named Voldemort who managed to kill his parents. It's time he took his place with the other witches and wizards of the land. His training will commence at Hogwart's, and at last young Harry will find the friendship and sense of belonging that he's been missing all these years.

Life at Hogwart's isn't without its problems, though. There are difficult teachers, supercilious students, a vicious three-headed dog, and a mystery to be solved. There's also Quidditch, a game played on flying broomsticks with magical balls, a game at which Harry turns out to be a natural.

It's been a long time since a book came along that was this much fun. Harry is charming, self-effacing and full of humor and smarts -- a perfect hero. The witches and wizards at Hogwart's are all distinct personalities, too. From Professor MacGonagall, the stern witch with a heart of gold, to Peeves, the pesky poltergeist who irritates absolutely everybody, these characters will keep you turning pages. And the climax is as exciting as a reader could wish. Good triumphs over evil, of course, and Harry will be back with more adventures at Hogwart's. None too soon!

Treat yourself to a delightful escape and immerse yourself in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Park the kids on the couch and read it out loud - they'll love you for it. Chances are good you'll soon be running out to buy the sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Let's all hope J.K. Rowling has a vast supply of Harry-tales up her sleeve.

--Cathy Sova


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