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I calculated percentages of sentences that begin with a subject, adverb, etc. I also looked at percentages of sentence type used: fragments, complex sentences, etc.
Here’s what I learned: When reading your manuscript straight through for errors, highlighting different parts of speech individually (nouns, verbs, adverbs…) is an excellent editing method. This is how I started the project, and while it didn’t teach me much about my writing, scanning it piecemeal made the text pop in a different way. I discovered a dozen small errors and typos that I and my writing group had not yet found (in the first 50 pages alone).
Simplicity is okay. Forty-five percent of all my sentences are simple. I start 63 percent of my sentences with subjects. At first I was sure this was too high. But these numbers are actually pretty average compared to my favorite authors.
Levithan had the highest percentages of simple sentences and of sentences beginning with subjects (65%), but his writing is still some of the most poetic, jazzy, and prismatic writing I’ve read. Maybe this is because of the many gorgeous participial phrases in the middle or at the end of his sentences.
Similarly, Rowell’s writing gets more interesting (lots of fragments composed of participial phrases) whenever the protagonist waxes nostalgic about his girlfriend. Much like Levithan, her fragments make seemingly small, subtle emotional steps that work.
click to enlarge
Austen had the second highest percentage of fragments (Blame Mrs. Bennet’s blathering about Bingley.). Austen also uses the smallest range of tools for sentence starters, yet she scores fairly high in her use of complex sentences.
Complexity is also okay. One myth among young writers is that long sentences are always run-on sentences. This is untrue.
Take Hemingway, who is surprisingly complex. Because of his reputation as a straightforward, clear writer, I expected him to score high in fragments, but he had the least of anyone: only 2.2%.
His complex sentences were also the most complex of any I analyzed. Compared to writers like Levithan and Rowell, Hemingway often covers more ground (years, literally) with longer, more complex, and exceptionally clear sentences.
Use a range of tools. As far as sentence starters, Rowling definitely uses the widest range of tools. It’s probably not a coincidence that her varied writing has captivated children and adults alike.
Don’t focus too much on statistics. Initially, I thought that the best writing would have the greatest variation. But some sentence starters and structures work better depending on the author’s voice and the novel’s contents; Hemingway and Kingsolver, for example, punctuate their long, complex sentences with short, punchy ones. This may not make the most interesting graph, but it sets their voices apart and makes for great fiction.
My sample size is admittedly small. I’m only looking at first chapters, and there’s plenty more to learn. But my brain hurts from too much data entry, and the boarding school from my third novel beckons.
As we have come to know over the years, J.K. Rowling has a big heart. Since becoming the most financially successful author in history, J.K. Rowling has also become one of the most philanthropic celebrities–never forgetting the humbleness and humility to serve those in need.
The Guardian reported on Britain’s most philanthropic celebrities in terms of donations made this past year, and not surprisingly, J.K. Rowling topped the list. The Guardian reports:
“Sir Elton John and JK Rowling have been revealed as Britain’s most benevolent celebrities, with each donating a large proportion of their fortune to charities.
“John gave £26.8m to charity last year, mainly to his Aids foundations in Britain and the US which he established in 1992. Rowling donated £10.3m, according to the Sunday Times.
“The writer’s charities of choice were the Lumos Foundation, her own charity aimed at closing down all child institutions and orphanages around the world by 2050, as well as the Volant Charitable Trust, which raises money to alleviate social deprivation and for research into multiple sclerosis, which killed Rowling’s mother.”
In addition to her generosity, Jo is also made headlines for what Jo does best–writing. J.K. Rowling’s closest “friend,” and the Potter world’s favorite crime writer, Robert Galbraith has been added to the long list of 18 finalists for the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award for Galbraith’s latest novel, Career of Evil. Galbraith and Rowling are listed with one of the pair’s closest crime-novelist friends, Val McDermid, who is also a former recipient of the award.
The long list of nominees included well-established writers, as well as many debut novelists. Many in the running agree that the debut novelists keep already well-known writers on their toes, exhibiting equal if not greater talent. The Guardian reported on J.K. Rowling’s praise of last year’s winner, a debut novelist, reporting:
“Harrogate International Festivals literary manager Gemma Rowland said the list demonstrates how “even the giants of the genre are constantly kept on their toes, with debut voices as serious contenders”.
“Rowland pointed out that last year’s winner was Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin. “It really shows whoever wins this year will know they’ve been pitted against the biggest talent at work today,” she said.”
The winner of the award also receives a cash prize of £3,000, which we assume Galbraith and Rowling will come to an agreement on where to donate the prize if they win. Galbraith will probably pull for amputee war veterans, and Rowling will probably agree. They make such a great pair.
The Gaurdian included the long list of nominations which can be read here.
This morning, J.K. Rowling tweeted from London. After being up all night with a “Robert-related brainwave” that made the insomnia worth it, our tired beloved author made her way to Cursed Child rehearsals.
Now, before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, I’ve been thinking about this for the last few hours, and once again Jo is not breaking canon, though that initially may appear to be the case.
As much as we love to movies, Jo’s canon resides primarily in her books. Hermoine may be white in the movies, but according to the books she can be any ethnicity or nationality the reader imagines–and often the ethnicity the reader most identifies with. (Before all of you start pointing to chapter 21 in Prisoner of Azkaban, “white face” is a euphemism for scared. Chapter 4 of the same book reads, “They were there, both of them, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor — Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione very brown, both waving frantically at him.” She could be tanned, or she could be naturally darker skinned. Arguably, Hermione can be any race–it’s never directly specified. Does it really matter? NO.)
The wands described in the books give readers the wood and core materials and the length. Nothing is mentioned about design. In the first two Harry Potter films, Chirs Columbus opted to make everyone’s wands fairly similar in design. Alfonso Cuaron first brought uniquely designed wands to the films in Prisoner of Azkaban. Whether you love or hate the third movie, it was revolutionary with how the Potter books were portrayed on film, and did deviate from Jo’s world (though Jo did give her approval on the variations).
The materials of the five wands are still the same, as well as the length. For the first time, we are seeing the wands of the five main characters as Jo envisioned them.
The ever-mysterious Pottermore Correspondent managed to sneak in an interview with Katherine Waterston, on the set of Fantastic Beasts. She ‘perfectly inhabits’ the character of Tina Goldstein, according to Pottermore, and we can’t wait to see for ourselves the level of talent David Yates clearly saw in her:
‘We were standing in the pouring rain with David Yates and I asked him about the casting process,’ I [the Pottermore Correspondent] tell Katherine, wondering if she knows. ‘David said he got Eddie Redmayne to read with so many actresses but he knew immediately that you were Tina. That you had such perfect chemistry and it had to be you.’
‘Oh! Oh, really?’ she says, genuinely incredulous and in her soft American accent. ‘That’s too nice. I bet he was like, “Don’t tell her that, it’ll go to her head!” Oh, he’s such a dear man. He brings so much joy to the set, but the real thing that trickles down from the top is his faith in this process because he’s been in this world before.’
Yates has also been at work on The Legend of Tarzan, and knows the Potter series well after directing the last four movies,so he is well versed in leading great actors – we’re confident he’s found something special in Waterston!
Katherine says that Yates has been a huge help on set, and clearly has a passion for his work and J.K. Rowling’s world:
‘Usually on a movie, you’re going into new territory together and you’re like, “Is there quicksand around the corner, are there going to be wolves attacking?” Whereas David’s been here before so he’s just like, “You’re going to take a left here and avoid the quicksand”.
‘He has a shorthand and a comfort with the world. He’s not precious with it, he understands what it needs and what it doesn’t need and there’s something really comforting in that.’
‘When we’re incorporating things that aren’t actually there, to look at David and know he can see the world is… everything,’
‘It’s sort of like when your parents read you a book when you’re a kid; if they read it with passion and curiosity, you can see the whole world.’
When asked by the Pottermore correspondent what she thinks of Rowling’s world, and how she feels about the script, Katherine gives us some great insight on the film’s tone. ‘Tender’, ‘slightly English’ and ‘beautiful’, but more interestingly, the film is reportedly ‘rooted in truth':
‘Ah, this movie. It’s so clever and it’s rooted in truth. It’s got light, funny elements and then much darker, more adult elements. I normally don’t respond so well to innocent lovely things, I think, “come on, let’s get on with it”. But there’s something about this script and the way J.K. Rowling writes; it’s tender without being saccharine. It never lingers on the sweet parts but maybe that’s a slightly English thing: “Oh I felt something – moving on!” No, really, it’s a beautiful film. It’ll kill me to finish filming it.’
Read the full interview with Katherine Waterston over at Pottermorehere.
Back before 2007, when Harry Potter books had yet to be published, the need to protect the unread Harry Potter plot skyrocketed. There have been many reports in the past that describe the security measures taken to keep unpublished Harry Potter books a secret. Little did we know, that security even stretched to GCHQ, a British secret intelligence agency.
Last week, Bloomsbury’s Nigel Newton revealed this security measure taken for Harry Potter on an Australian podcast. (You may listen and download the podcast here.) Since then, the Harry Potter news world, especially around Britain, has been abuzz at this revelation. The BBC reported on what was said in the podcast interview, writing:
Mr Newton told Australia’s ABC Radio the publisher regarded keeping the plot secret as very important saying: “If newspapers splashed ‘Dumbledore dies’ what pleasure is there going to be for a kid reading it? The enemies stood to ruin a great deal of pleasure for the world.”
It led Bloomsbury to bring in extra security guards and dogs to patrol the press where the books were being printed and help stop any leaks.
“We fortunately had many allies,” Mr Newton said. “GCHQ rang me up and said, ‘We’ve detected an early copy of this book on the internet’. I got them to read a page to our editor and she said, ‘No, that’s a fake’. We also had judges and the police on our side.
[GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is a secret intelligence agency which monitors electronic communication to prevent terrorism and tackle serious and organised crime.]
“It was completely mad and we were at the eye of the storm – I remember Jo Rowling phoning me once after she had delivered a new book saying, ‘please will you release the name of the title because I have people outside searching my trash can looking for bits of paper’.
“We had to go into a complete security lockdown because people were trying to steal the manuscript.”
Mr Newton also claimed a tabloid newspaper sent a reporter with £5,000 in cash to circle the printing press and offer workers money to steal a copy.
The Harry Potter series is one of the most well known book series in the world, and has had a huge impact on culture, extending beyond the realm of literature. Sometimes it even needed the help of secret services to thrive. After the news of their involvement went viral, GCHQ released a statement saying, “We don’t comment on our defence against the dark arts.”
A lot to say and so little time to say it. Let’s get started!
Today, if you are at all feeling blue, I suggest you read The Toast piece Jaya Catches Up: A Little Princess which is a killer breakdown of what is inarguably a problematic book. The Marie Antoinette portions are particularly choice.
Next, the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners were announced. What does that mean for you? It means you should be boning up on your international children’s book knowledge, of course. Commit the names “Rotraut Susanne Berner of Germany” (who won for Illustration) and Cao Wenxuan of China (who won for Writing)” to memory. For more info on the books and the winners, go here.
If you were speaking to the man on the street (or woman, or child, or what have you) and they said, “Boy, those children’s books took the hardest left turn a series ever took”, what series would you assume the person was speaking about? Here is your answer and it’s a heckuva amusing post to boot.
Oh. In a weird way this makes sense. They’re turning The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, the biography of Dare Wright, creator of the Lonely Doll book series, in to a film with Naomi Watts and Jessica Lange. You know what that means, don’t you? Lonely Doll fever is poised to sweep the nation. Be wary. Be warned. And buy stock in frilly underwear.
Remember when J.K Rowling said she had this “political fairytale” that was going to be her next non-Harry Potter children’s book? Looks like it’s kaputski. Which is to say, about 30 years after Ms. Rowling’s death someone will pull it out of that drawer and publish it anyway. So it goes.
This next one’s roundabout three years old but I only just found it. The mom from the Cat in the Hat finally speaks. Quite frankly, I always found that polka-dotted dress of hers rather fetching (to say nothing of her keen shoes) but that may just be me.
If you had the great good fortune to see the NYPL exhibit The ABC of It then you would have noticed one section was dedicated to a fascinating array of Soviet children’s art. I remember helping curator Leonard Marcus locate these books (of which NYPL owns a goodly number) and he picked and chose the best amongst them. But where did they originate? Having recently finished M.T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead, I took the little bit of context I’d acquired and applied it to this fabulous piece on tygertale called Revolutionary Russian Children’s Books. Now I’m just beginning to understand. Thanks to Phil Nel (I’m pretty sure) for the link.
Growing up my mom had a machine in the attic that could type out braille. I don’t know why we owned it but I liked it a lot. Braille children’s books available in a mass market context have always been difficult to obtain, though. With this in mind, I’m very pleased to see DK is now releasing a braille board book series. Wow. Way to go, DK!
All right. My four-year-old is upstairs asleep and in her room are all my Harry Potter books. Otherwise I would check this myself. You see, they just released the first look of the new Jim Kay illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. And I am staring and staring at this cover and I need your help. Look at the cover right here:
Am I crazy or is that car chock full of Weaselys? And doesn’t Harry drive to Hogwarts with just Ron? At least that’s what the old British cover told me:
So . . . huh? [Note: Interestingly the Buzzfeed article has plenty of comments but no one is pointing this out so I may just be completely and utterly wrong about everything]
In other news, the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy longlist was just released. Frances Hardinge made the cut!!! Wooty woot woot woot!!
Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen) Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown) Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet) Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House) Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux) Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine) Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen) Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)
Oh, I absolutely love this. Children’s art. Not art for children, mind you, but art by children and its ramifications when studying history. Again, I think I have Phil Nel to thank for this one. He finds all the good stuff.
The Make Way for Ducklings statues are nothing new (nor are they the only ducklings as my old post on all the public children’s literature statues in America attests). Nor is it new to put hats on them. That said, this recent yarnbombing goes above and beyond the call of duty. That’s some seriously good knitting!
Adding to the torrent of great interviews from the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood this week, SnitchSeeker have posted interviews with Tom Felton and Warwick Davis, on which attraction they think should be added to the park.
Tom Felton stayed loyal to his character, saying he’d love to see Malfoy Manor, and even said he’d agree if he was asked to be involved in the process of making it!:
“I would like to see Malfoy Manor – obviously a bit biased there. I think it would maybe make a good ghost house or some sort of like spook train or whatever. There’s enough dark sides of that house to scare any child, I think. Yeah, there’s more look forward to. Something tells me this isn’t the end of it.”
On Fantastic Beasts, Tom Felton was confident that the newest venture in the cinematic Wizarding World will live up to Potter fans’ standards: SnitchSeeker: What are your thoughts about the Fantastic Beasts series? What are you hoping to see, as a fan, as part of the series?
Tom: No expectations. I haven’t thought about it. I know it’s the dream team. You’ve got Heyman, Yates and Rowling back together, so they can’t really do much wrong, I don’t think. I have every faith in their ability to convert Jo’s work to the best of their abilities. I just think it’s exciting that she’s keeping the flame going, in a different sense. She’s creating more content.
SnitchSeeker: What would be your advice to that cast, just coming into this fan base, for Eddie Redmayne and everybody else?
Tom: I don’t think they need to take advice from us. We don’t share any similarities, really. At 9 and 10 years old, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. They know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. And Eddie’s an Oscar-winning actor. The last thing he needs is advice from me.
Tom also spoke about his career choices, and projects he’s currently involved in:
SnitchSeeker: What do you have coming up, project-wise?
Tom: Something released? A few things this year. There’s an animation film called, Sheep & Wolves, there’s a British spy film called, Stratton and a film that I just did with Troian Bellisario, an American drama called, Feed. I have no idea when any of these films will be out, but I know they will be at some point. This year’s going to be mostly commercial.
SnitchSeeker: You pick so many different projects. How do you choose them? What motivates you?
Tom: Just people. I don’t particularly go for character or story. I mean, it all plays a part, but I’m more interested in working with people that I get on well with. I don’t consider the outcome to be the reward or the result. I just purely base it on my experience, and what comes out of it is really neither here nor there to me. If the Harry Potter films were a complete failure, I still would have loved them as much as I did. So yeah, just enjoying the experience.
Watch SnitchSeeker’s video of the interview below, and read the full interview here.
Warwick Davis also told us what he’d add – he takes a dark route, similar to Tom – it’d definitely be interesting to see some sort of haunted mansion-esque ride with the darker places in the Wizarding World featuring somehow!:
SnitchSeeker: If you had a voice in how to expand the Wizarding World here or in Orlando or even Japan, what would you like to see come to life?
Warwick: I would like to see Azkaban. I’m intrigued about what goes on in Azkaban. We hear about it but we never really get a chance to see in Azkaban. So I think that’d be interesting.
SnitchSeeker: How would you envision it?
Warwick: A dark experience, wouldn’t it be? It’d be spooky, kind of like a Haunted Mansion-type thing that they have at Disneyworld. You go through and it’s one of those exploratory rides that takes you through. Lots of shocks and stuff, and really into special effects.
Speaking on Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child (which Warwick admitted he’d love to have a part in), Davis seems just as excited as Tom, with all the trust in Jo Rowling and Jack Thorne to give us amazing stories, and links this to the abilities of the theme park to add to the Potter stories in ways we’d never imagined:
SnitchSeeker: So Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child, it’s basically a new chapter in the entire Wizarding World. What are your thoughts on it – starting with Fantastic Beasts?
Warwick: Fantastic Beasts will, I believe, give us another glimpse into the Wizarding World J.K. Rowling’s imagined. That’s quite exciting, isn’t it? It’ll be a slightly different perspective of that world. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie.
SnitchSeeker: Have you poked J.K. Rowling to get her rolling there? Because we know there are goblins in Fantastic Beasts?
Warwick: You don’t know who to drop hints to, these days. I used to do that with Star Wars. That was my old trick. If there’s a character, I would hope that they would ask me to do something. As I said, I’m just excited that they’re actually going to make some more stuff that gives us another look into that world.
As do things here in the Wizarding World. Forbidden Journey is a chance to experience further adventures – something you don’t see in the movies. So all of this stuff expands on it. The play in London will also do a little bit more of that, as well. It’ll be a slightly different glimpse into the world.
SnitchSeeker: So what advice would you give to the actors in Fantastic Beasts, as somebody whose been surrounded by millions of fans over the years? They’re about to hit that, as well.
Warwick: They’re certainly going to find it an interesting experience. And one I should imagine they’re preparing themselves for because, obviously, when we made the first Harry Potter film we knew the books were really successful, there were two books out at that point.
We never had a concept of how successful the movie was going to be. And then the fact that we were going to go and make eight in total. So at this point I imagine they actually have some idea like, “Yeah, this could be pretty huge, this.” But, you never can tell, but they’re always going to be known for being cast members in Fantastic Beasts. That’s what’s going to happen.
In terms of projects he’s working on, Warwick is very secretive – SnitchSeeker try to get us some hints, but to no avail, unfortunately! We look forward to the eventual revealing of his role in films to come:
SnitchSeeker: So what’s coming up for you, project-wise?
Warwick: I’m in loads of stuff at the minute. Much of it I can’t talk about, which is a shame, but rules of secrecy exist quite prominently in the film industry now. There’s lots of exciting things, but stuff I can’t talk about. Sorry.
SnitchSeeker: Possibly back in Star Wars?
Warwick: Again, I couldn’t talk about it.
Again, see SnitchSeeker’s interview with Warwick below, and read the full interview with him here.
Catch more with Tom, Warwick and other Potter actors from the event here and here!
The red carpet event celebrating yesterday’s grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood took place on the 5th April. Leaky fans were on the ground covering the event, which you can read about here, but of course there are more interviews with the Potter cast than we can count!
Here are some of the best below:
Entertainment Weekly sought after the actor’s questions for J.K. Rowling since the series finished filming.
James and Oliver Phelps wanted to know what happened to George after Fred’s death:
OLIVER: I think with George, it would probably be what does he do with the company. Like, does he expand it? Or does he just keep it as homage to his brother? Or does he go, we’re going to open it up elsewhere?
JAMES: Did he franchise it?
Oliver Phelps came up with a great theory regarding Fred’s ultimate fate, which he told Seventeen:
“I think he’d dive into the family business even more and try to make it even better in Fred’s memory, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fred was a ghost in the shop.”
Tom Felton told Entertainment Weekly that he missed Draco, and had endless compliments for J.K. Rowling regarding the character:
“There’s a beautiful understanding between him and I, I think. I miss him. I miss him a lot. But Jo has such a wonderful way of making these characters so rich and full anyway. I suppose all the things that I don’t know are assumed. But I also know that Jo is an endless wealth of knowledge so if I ever have anything that was puzzling me, I know she’d be more than happy for me to ask her. You’ve got me picking my brains now. I’ll have to message her tomorrow.”
Evanna Lynch obviously had the most questions about Luna – being a huge fan of the books, she wanted to know more about Luna’s family:
“I think the big blank is her mom. I’ve always wondered what she’s like. We’ve just been told her name is Pandora and that she died doing an experiment, and I just wonder, I really am curious what was her relationship with Luna? Because obviously she’s so close to her dad, and I find that there’s always one parent that you have more in common with or that you confide in more, and I wonder … was that her mom? Or just what kind of person she was.”
Make sure you catch the full article from Entertainment Weeklyhere.
You can also read a hilarious exclusive interview with Tom Felton playing ‘Marry, Snog, Stupefy’ with Bustlehere, and a snippet from the interview below:
“When given three names of Harry Potter characters, Felton must choose which he’d most like to marry, snog (kiss), and stupefy, which, according to Harry Potter wiki, to stupefy someone means to “render a victim unconscious and/or halt moving objects.” So basically, it’s a less morbid version of the “kill” option most muggles are accustom to.
But before I can give him three options, Felton declares: “I’d snog Bellatrix.” …. I remind him of the rules — I give you the three options, Tom — and we begin.”
MSN also spoke to Evanna Lynch, about the roles she is currently looking for, which appear to steer away from ‘darker’ roles in shows such as The Walking Dead:
“I really just want to do characters a I really love,” Lynch told AAP on the red carpet at the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in California.
“There are other scripts that come along and I see them but I don’t really have the passion unless I connect with the character.
“I am sick of zombie movies, all these things about undead people. I want things that make the world lighter rather than scarier.
“Everyone says it’s so good but I hate zombies and that kind of violence.”
She also commented on J.K. Rowling’s constant development of the wizarding world – which we know she is excited about and understandably wanting to be involved in! Evanna spoke about what she’d like to see from any sequels involving Luna:
“She (Rowling) has created another world and made it so rich and varied and interesting and I feel like it will never end,” Lynch said.
“I’d love if she did a sequel, I would love to know more about Luna and I feel like there is a lot more to explore.
“I would love a wildlife show with Luna and a documentary series.”
She revealed her thoughts on whether she thought the pairing of Neville and Luna should have gone any further to Movie Pilot:
“Definitely not. I think he’s very much a homebody, a stay-at-home dad. And Luna wants to go out and explore the world and different creatures, and I think she wants to have several different relationships and not be committed forever. Neville would want a good sturdy wife who cooks, and that’s not her.”
Warwick Davis also attended the event, and spoke to Hollywood Life about the how he’d feel about appearing in Cursed Child. Of course, he’d be more than thrilled:
“To be back in something that has been created by J.K. Rowling and something that goes on to have a life beyond that is exceptional and it would be lovely to do that!”
“I love performing, I am an actor. This is what I love doing So however I manage that and have that manifest itself is a great pleasure!”
He also revealed his aspirations for TV:
“It would be to have a chat show, I mean that is my last bucket list to take on”
“I have done everything else in my career that I have wanted to take on and what I want to do but the chat show still remains elusively something that I would still love to do and a thing that I think I could do very well!”
SnitchSeeker also caught up with James and Oliver Phelps to ask them about the theme parks, and about the newest ventures into the wizarding world (Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child). They posted a video of the interview (below), and you can catch their transcript here.
Make sure you catch our full coverage of the event at this link!
Last month, when Leaky reported that the chair J.K. Rowling sat on writing the first two Harry Potter book as a struggling single mother, the opening auction price was $45,000. It was sold for $394,000 at the auction earlier this week. Yes, nearly $400,000 for that little magical chair.
The seller of the chair, Gerald Gray, said that he would donate 10% of the proceeds to J.K. Rowling’s children’s charity, Lumos. Long ago, J.K. Rowling originally auctioned off the chair to benefit charity and Mr. Gray felt called to contribute to a cause. Lumos was gifted nearly $40,000 in donations from the chair alone.
The chair was auctioned twice before – once by J. K. Rowling to benefit charity.
The seller, Gerald Gray, of Worsley, Greater Manchester, said the winning bid far exceeded his expectations.
“I plan to donate 10% to J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos, because that’s what she did in the first place,” said Mr Gray, a businessman who runs a vehicle speed control equipment company in Manchester, and in Sarasota, Florida, called AutoKontrol.
He said he would like to see the new buyer display it somewhere where children could see it, perhaps in a museum or theme park.
He bought the chair in 2009 after his daughter, a Harry Potter fan, saw it on eBay.
Heritage Auctions, who hosted the auction of the chair, uploaded several images of the chair and wrote a lengthy description of it, saying:
A few years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the chair was donated to a small auction in 2002 called Chair-ish a Child in aid of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). However, it was something that according to Rowling herself would have been “purchased from a junk shop for a tenner.” Rather than selling it in its original form, Rowling used gold, rose, and green paints to transform the chair into a magical piece of literary memorabilia.
On the stiles and splats, in gold and rose colors: “You may not / find me pretty ~ / but don’t judge / on what you see.”
Rowling signed the backrest in the gold and rose paints. Then along the apron of the seat: “I wrote / Harry Potter / while sitting / on this chair.”
For comparison, a handwritten manuscript of The Tales of Beedle the Bard was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2007 and purchased by Amazon.com for nearly $4 million, benefiting Rowling’s own charity, Lumos.
An incredible representation of a woman’s against-all-odds struggle to share her creative vision that is distinctly connected to and passed on by Rowling herself. This ordinary chair turned beautiful art piece is an incredible physical manifestation of a woman’s transformation into the modern world’s foremost literary figure. A small piece of history connected to the mythology of the Wizarding World and one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature: Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.
The entire description of the piece, and more photos of it, may be read here . A video created about the chair, created for the auction, can be seen below.
To those who haven’t read the book (or the series) yet, this is the perfect opportunity to buy them all in paperback – J.K. Rowling has done an amazing job via Robert Galbraith, with Career of Evil earning amazing ratings: 4.2 stars on Goodreads, 4.5 on Amazon.
We’ll let the reviews speak for themselves!
“Quirkily different… let’s hope the sardonic Strike is here to stay” (Independent)
“The denouement is violent, unexpected and satisfying . . . [an] entertaining novel” (The Times)
“Fans of the intrepid duo are in for some shocks . . . as readable and exciting as ever” (Daily Telegraph)
“A confident hold on a deliriously clever plot”(Guardian)
“The real joy of this series comes from the originality of the characters” (Morning Star)
“Robert Galbraith . . . again demonstrates that rare, inexplicable and indefinable gift: once started, one simply can’t put [his] books down” (Literary Review)
“Strike is a compelling creation . . . this is terrifically entertaining stuff” (Irish Times)
Read more reviews on ‘The New Queen of Crime’ here, and an interview with J.K. Rowling on the series here!
This morning, J.K. Rowling’s children’s charity, Lumos, released a statement that they are now hiring. Lumos, which is “committed to protecting and empowering the world’s most vulnerable children,” is looking for a project manager at their office in London.
The job description is posted on their site, wearelumos.org. Some of the details are below:
Location:London – with the ability to travel internationally
Salary:40,000 per annum – 2 year fixed term contract
Full/Part time:Full time
Closing date:19th April 2016
Interview date:2nd May 2016
Are you an experienced project manager with a passion to help vulnerable children? If you are, this job may be ideal for you.
Across the globe, an estimated eight million children live in institutions and orphanages. At least 80% are not orphans but are separated from families. They are deprived of the close, loving adult engagement a family provides; their physical, intellectual and emotional development is harmed; and they are exposed to significant risk of abuse and neglect. These are some of the world’s most disadvantaged children.
At Lumos, an international NGO founded by J.K. Rowling, and the UK 2015 Charity of the Year, we believe this is a solvable problem. We have developed a model of ‘deinstitutionalisation’ to support countries to reform child care and protection systems based on institutions and replace them with health, education and social care services which keep families together in the community.
We are seeking an experienced project manager to oversee the development and delivery of two major projects at Lumos.
1. Knowledge Transfer Project:
2. Greece Deinstitutionalisation Support Project:
Lumos operates in a number of different countries helping to support national and regional-level deinstitutionalisation activities. This project aims to help plan for and support the deinstitutionalisation process in Greece. This involves providing training and technical support to staff in the child protection system, emergency support and advocacy activities.
To apply for this role, you should be able to demonstrate a commitment to children’s rights, as well as an understanding of the factors influencing the institutionalisation of children and the complex challenges during the transition from institutional to community-based systems. Demonstrable experience in project management, including budget management, is required, together with experience of working in partnership with other organisations including governments, NGOs and other service providers.
Post-qualification experience in social work, health, public sector management, international children’s charity work or other relevant children’s services environments involving cross sector working is essential.
For more details and requirements about the job, instructions how to apply, and more, please visit wearelumos.org. All applicants must have an existing right to work in the UK.
“Harry Potter isn’t real? Oh no! Wait, wait, what do you mean by real? Is this video blog real? Am I real if you can see me and hear me, but only through the internet? Are you real if I can read your comment but I don’t know who you are or what your name is or where you’re from or what you look like or how old you are? I know all of those things about Harry Potter. Maybe Harry Potter’s real and you’re not.” ― John Green
The illustration of Hogwarts is by Jim Kay
Opening the Doors to Wonder
Wonder comes in many forms.
Harry Potter swept the reading world and opened the doors to a greater audience. The success of the Harry Potter series renewed broad-based respect for fairy tales.
From the first book and beyond, J.K. Rowlingcreated an alternate world thatreaders could relate to. People young and old are drawn in to these robust stories and their engaging, fully developed characters. As with the classic stories from the past, the characters, imaginative twists and turns of the stories, and the fully realized details, combined to enable readers to believe in the magic of an alternate reality. The seven Harry Potter books created an enormous worldwide audience. And provided the substance for wonderful films.
Adults have also become fans of the books and movies, creating a record breaking "crossover" market. And the phenomenon continues to grow...
Click the photo for spring wonder.
Contact With The Lives Of Others
"Rowling's books, by arousing curiousity and establishing contact with the lives of others, even if they exist solely within the confines of a literary work, enable children to develop capacities that readily translate into real-life experience. JkRowlingnever shies away from the great existential mysteries: death and loss, cruelty and compassion, desire and depression. Harry is anything but sheltered from the evils of Voldermort...he is destined for greatness even though he also posseses the weaknesses, failings, and vulnerabilities of all humans."
Maria Tatar -- Enchanted Hunters -- The Power of Stories in Childhood
Harry Began On A Train
JK Rowling: I was going on a train from Manchester to London and I was looking out of the window at some cows, I believe and I just thought: "Boy doesn't know he's a wizard - goes off to wizard school." I have no idea where it came from. I think the idea was floating along the train and looking for someone and my mind was vacant enough so it decided to zoom in there.
Stephen Fry: And you played with the idea in your head…
JK Rowling: Exactly! From that moment I thought: "Well why doesn't he realise he's a wizard?" It was as though the story was just there for me to discover and I thought: "Well his parents are dead and he needs to find out they're wizards" and on we went from there.
The illustration, from the Philosophers Stone, is by Jim Kay.
Hermione...an empowered young woman
"Throughout the Harry Potter Tales, Hermione emerges as the beneficiary of three centuries of girls' book identity. At times the plucky youth, at times the serious student, at times the foolish lover, at times the tomboy, at times the blossoming maiden -- taken together, all these aspects of her personality make her the heir to everyone from Jenny Peace in Sarah Fielding's The Governess, to Jo in Alcott's Little Women, to Alice in Carroll's Wonderland, to all the girl guides, or "new Women" or adventuresome or studious females who fill the range of popular writing well into the twentieth century."
From Seth Lerer writing about Theaters of Girlhood, Domesticity, Desire, and Performance in Female Fiction in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter
Finding the Right Wand -- an adventure in an alternate reality
First, you go to Diagon Alley where Ollivanders is located..."Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C...
A single wand lays on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window."
You will be helped by Mr. Ollivander, a very old man, who remembers every wand he has sold -- and to whom he sold it.
You will be measured in many ways by a tape measure that works on its on while Mr Ollvander explains that, "Every Ollvander wand has a core of powerful magical substance...We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tale feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same..."
You may have to try many wands before you have the right one.
It seems you don't choose the wand, the wand chooses you...
The fully imagined detail in the Harry Potter books plays a major role in their appeal. The fascinating story of Harry finding the right magic wand takes place in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stonewhen Hagrid takes Harry shopping on Diagon Alley, and introduces him to the the world of wizards.
The illustration of Harry and Hagrid in Diagon Alley is by Jim Kay
An Alternate Universe
..."J. K. Rowlinghas created a world as fully detailedas L. Frank Baum’s Oz or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, a world so minutely imagined in terms of its history and rituals and rules that it qualifies as an alternate universe, which may be one reason the “Potter” books have spawned such a passionate following and such fervent exegesis...."
From the book review by Michiko Kakatani of Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows in the New York Times
Stories That Opened My Mind
"There are hundreds upon hundreds of reasons for one to fall in love with the world and characters J.K. Rowling created in the Harry Potter series, the aforementioned being among them. For me, these are the stories that opened my mindto the wonderful world of books, novels and novellas, making them very near and dear to my heart..."
...Harry is called back into active duty when evil powers return in force... a new book and a play (opening in London) based on the book - HarryPotter and the Cursed Child -- are on their way, arriving in late July. They are based on a story by J.K. Rowling. Here are two links for more information: Pottermore and NPR
Wizardry Before Harry
The Wizard World in 1920's USA is the setting for a new movie,starring Eddie Redmayne...
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in the UK in November 2016... The book about Fantastic Beasts was used as part of the curriculum for young wizards in the Hogwarts classroom. There will be two sequels...all written by J.K. Rowling.
Support For Children
J.K. Rowling spendstime and money on helping people...In 2004 she foundedLumos...'No child should be denied a family life because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. Lumos works to support the 8 million children in institutions worldwide to regain their right to a family life and to end the institutionalisation of children."
For the real J.K. Rowling, or as close as we will probably get, I suggest the Oprah Interview... Engaging, interesting, and with some excellent documentary scenes woven in...Also, her candid, heartfelt, Harvard speech.
The N.R.A. Reimagines Classic Fairy Tales, With Guns
Liam Stack wrote this disturbing article. Here are excerpts...
"The world of make-believe can be a scary place, but never fear: Thanks to a series of reimagined fairy tales published online by the National Rifle Association, classic characters like Hansel and Gretel are now packing heat. The group has published two of the updated tales on its N.R.A. Family website in recent months, entitled “Little RedRiding Hood (Has a Gun)” and “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns).” The stories have outraged advocates of gun control, but their author, Amelia Hamilton, a conservative blogger, has called them lessons in gun safety...
In the N.R.A. version, Little Red Riding Hood sets off through the forest to visit her grandmother, just like in the original. But the Big Bad Wolf did not scare her this time, because she “felt the reassuring weight of the rifle on her shoulder.”
When the wolf approached her, “she shifted her rifle so that it was in her hands and at the ready.” He fled in fear...
Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, agreed, calling the stories “a disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign.” He said in a statement that the stories were in poor taste in part because nearly 50 children and teenagers are shot each day in the United States, and suicide by gun is a leading cause of death among children over the age of 9..."
Here is a link to read all of this disturbing article:FairyTaleGuns
The photo of a boy with a Barrett rifle at a meeting of the National Rifle Association in St. Louis in 2012. is by Daniel Acker for The New York Times
Save The Children
Save the Children works in 120 countries, including the United States, and has helped more than 166 million children — including more than 55 million children directly. Here are excerpts from the story of one child...
"At 12 years old Omar* suddenly found himself responsible for his family and working to support his mother and younger brother after his father was killed in the conflict... 'I am the man of the house now and they are relying on me'...Recently Omar started working in a fuel market in northern Syria where the work is both difficult and dangerous, and yet it is a job that pays enough to meet his family’s needs. Every day he goes to the market with his bucket and sponge to collect fuel that has spilled onto the ground from the tankers. Using the sponge he soaks up the fuel, squeezes it into his bucket and sells what he has collected at the end of every day.
Omar said, 'We have to be here very early in the morning because the tankers arrive early, so I get here at six in the morning and leave late at night so I that I have time to collect as much fuel as possible'..."
Omar was a good student and loved school; he dreamed of becoming an architect. His life is now about survival.
Here is a link to read all of Omar's painful story: Omar
Top photo, courtesy IRF; bottom photo, courtesy Save The Children.
Importance of Children's Books for Most Adults "But children's books are extremely important. Most adults don't read many books and if they do it will probably be some form of popular fiction. So achildren's classic may be the last, or in some cases, the only, piece of serious literature they have read. As such these books are very influentialand so I think it is our responsibility to consider them as seriously and carefully as any other great literature."
From a Guardian article by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alison Lurie, professor emeritus of literature and writing at Cornell University, and author and editor of a multitude of children's books.
Here are excerpts from Chapter One of the book...the story of how dogs came down to Planet Earth to help people...
"Far out in the sky, on the other side of the sun, is the Planet of the Dogs. Dogs have always lived there in peace and happiness.
There are country dogs and city dogs. They live in places like Shepherd Hills, Poodletown, Retriever Meadows, Muttville, Hound Dog Hamlet, Biscuit Town, and Shaggy Corners...
Dogs talk to each other in many ways. They woof, bark, and howl. They use body movement, face licking, smiling, and tail wagging. Dogs can hear what other dogs are thinking. And they always tell the truth...Dogs are very good at sleeping, taking naps, and waiting for someone they love...
Dogs have no worries on their planet because there are no dangers there. There are no bad dogs, no hungry animals, and no mean people. There is plenty to eat, lots of time to play, and all kinds of schools for the puppies to learn interesting things about their planet and each other. It’s a wonderful place to live.
This is the world of Yelodoggie, created by author and dog advocate, C.A. Wulff.
All dogs, deep in their heart of hearts, are yellow. Because yellow is the color of light and joy and happiness, and these attributes are the true essence of dogs. Here is a link to Wulff's Etsy shopwhere you can see more of these delightful original watercolor paintings and prints celebrating dogs. They make a wonderful gift...
Alternate Realities from Finland
Leena Krohn, a highly regarded writer in Europe, wrote one of my favorite books, Tainaron. I was gratified to see that Joshua Rothman, in the New Yorker, wrote that her newly published book of collected fiction was among " The Books We Loved in 2015". Here is an excerpt:
"I also found myself hypnotized by Leena Krohn, a Finnish writer whose collected stories and novels, rendered into English by many different translators, have just been published as a single volume, “Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction.” Broadly speaking, Krohn is a speculative writer; one of the novels in the collection, for example, consists of thirty letters written from an insect city. (“It is summer and one can look at the flowers face to face.”) Krohn writes like a fantastical Lydia Davis, in short chapters the length of prose poems. Her characters often have a noirish toughness; one, explaining her approach to philosophy, says that when she asks an existential question, “life answers. It is generally a long and thorough answer...”
A compelling5 minute report on DW tv news about a little girl in North Koreabrought me a reminder of the power of film. Vitaly Mansky, the producer/director, has made a very poignant filmabout the life of Zin Mi (the little girl) in both the real world and the manufactured world of North Korea.
Here are excerpts from an informative article by Carmen Grayin the Guardian...
"A new film on life in North Korea has caused a diplomatic row after the director used officially sanctioned shoots to demonstrate how the state manipulates its people.
Authorities are said to have tried to prevent screenings of Under the Sun, a film that follows a North Korean girl as she prepares to celebrate the Day of the Shining Star, the birthday of former supreme leader Kim Jong-il...The film reveals how government representatives seek to construct an image of an “ideal” family, capturing the hectoring of officials as they tell the Koreans what to say, how to sit and when to smile.
“I wanted to make a film about the real Korea, but there’s no real life in the way that we consider,” said Mansky, who spent a year in the country filming. “There is just the creation of an image of the myth of a real life. So we made a film about fake reality.”
"Credit the Disney folks with making what could have been a lecture on stereotypes into one of the more amusing animated kidflicks of recent vintage. When you consider that this is the same zip-ah-dee-doo-dah studio that once made Song of the South ... well, let's just say Zootopia suggests we've all come a long way"...Bob Mondello, NPR
The Witch, a low budget (one million dollars), independent production, continues to find an ever-growing audience (over 30 million dollars)...
"The Witch is a scary movie and a serious one, because it lure us into the minds and the earthly domains, of those who are themselves scared, night and day, that they have forfeited the mercies of God. It takes an original movie to remind us of original sin..." Anthony Lane in his New Yorker review.
Stacy Schiffinwrote an excellent article, relevant to this movie, on TheWitches of Salem, also in the New Yorker. Here is an excerpt..."In 1692, the Massachusetts Bay Colony executed fourteen women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft. The sorcery materialized in January. The first hanging took place in June, the last in September; a stark, stunned silence followed. Although we will never know the exact number of those formally charged..."
“Both Rowling and Meyer (Twilight series), they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”- Stephen King
Circling the Wagginsby C.A. Wulff
What happens when a group of the most irascible, insane, and ridiculously un-adoptable pets known to man end up being permanent residents in an animal rescuer's home? Challenges abound and chaos reigns!
Here are excerpts from author Tim McHugh’s review…
"Circling the Wagginsis a heart-felt and moving story of two women's quest to heal and nurture a wide variety of animals. C.A. Wulff poignantly captures the complex personalities of the mice, dogs, and cats that inhabit her wilderness home as well as the humorous chaos that ensues as they all try to coexist. It is by turns a roller-coaster ride of animal rescue, as well as a keen reflection on the frailty of all life and the healing power of love and letting go."
Good Dog provides therapy dog services to people in health care, social service, educational and communityfacilities, and at disaster sites around the country. Its highly-trained and fully-certified volunteer teams each consist of a human handler and therapy dog. Good Dog focuses on work in the four divisions of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Research, and Disaster Response.For more on the work of these divisions, click here.
As the largest certifying animal-assisted therapy organization on the East Coast of the United States, Good Dog currently operates in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and at disaster sites around the country. Good Dog focuses on work in the four divisions of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Research, and Disaster Response."
by Jane E. Brody, Personal Health writer for the New York Times
"It did not take long for me to recognize the therapeutic potential of Max, the hypoallergenic 5-month-old Havanese puppy I adopted in March 2014. He neither barked nor growled and seemed to like everyone, especially the many children that come up and down our block.
When I asked if a crying child passing by would like to pet a puppy, the tears nearly always stopped as fluffy little Max approached, ready to be caressed.
So I signed us up for therapy dog training with the Good Dog Foundation, which met conveniently in my neighborhood. If we passed the six-week course, we would be certified to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes, children in schools, and people in other venues that recognize the therapeutic potential of well-behaved animals..."
Here is the link to read all of this fascinating and informative article by Jane Brody: Personal Health
The illustration is by Paul Rogers
We have free reader copiesof the Planet Of The Dogsseries for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at email@example.com and we will send you the books
Our books are available through independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble,Amazon, Powell'sand many more.
The Planet Of The Dogs series is also available in digital format at
The illustration from Planet Of The Dogs is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
Meeting A Dog
If you see an injured dog or a dog in trouble , from puppy mills to poison, Sunbear Squad can help you. Sunbear Squadis a leading source for information and guidance in dog rescue and care. Here is an excerpt from their site about meeting a new dog(s)...
"In the western world, we are taught at an early age to greet new people by approaching them with upright posture, looking directly into their eyes and offering a hand to shake or squeeze. It becomes second nature to us, so as a result, many of us animal lovers greet every living thing–except bugs–using those same “good manners...
We must UNLEARN that set of social rules to avoid frightening dogs, cats, and other animals, who will perceive full-front posture, staring, and outstretched arm as rude and threatening (unless they were very well-socializedwith humans during the crucial developmental period).
In other words, polite human greetings are bad manners for greeting dogs and cats! In fact the two greeting languages are almost all completely opposite...Here is a link to read all of this article:Meeting A Dog.
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ― Will Rogers
Following last week’s announcement of the publishing partners assisting with the creation and distribution of Fantastic Beasts merchandise and companion books, press releases from the publishers are circulating, giving us little hints at what to expect.
The CEO of Insight Editions, Raoul Goff, said of the announcement:
“Insight is thrilled to continue working with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, extending our current line of Harry Potter film-related products to include Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The Fantastic Beasts line will have a little something for everybody and will feature all of the hallmarks of quality and creativity that fans have come to expect from the Harry Potter film publishing program.”
Their press release reminds us of their great merchandise, and the amazing works partnerships like this can produce on a global scale:
“For the last seven years, Insight Editions has published a wide range of books and collectible products for the Harry Potter franchise, including the Monster Book of Monsters prop replica (featuring a limited edition of Harry Potter: The Creature Vault), Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book, and several other titles and formats released in over twenty-five languages worldwide.
In addition to products they have published themselves, Insight Editions has created multiple books for the Harry Potter film franchise that have been published in the US through HarperCollins and Scholastic—including the New York Times bestsellers Harry Potter: Film Wizardry, Harry Potter: Page to Screen, and Harry Potter Coloring Book.
“Our partnerships, both in the US and internationally, have become a cornerstone of the success of our Harry Potter film publishing,” said Goff. “We look forward to creating an equally strong global program for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for years to come.”
Ellie Berger – President of Scholastic Trade – commented on the partnership:
“As the U.S. publisher that introduced Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to American readers in 1998, we are thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to complement the expansion of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. We look forward to bringing the world of these amazing movies to existing fans and a new generation of readers.”
Catherine Bell, Scholastic UK’s Co. Group Managing Director, said:
“We are delighted to be publishing the tie-in programmes for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the original Harry Potter movies. With a range of exciting formats, we look forward to bringing the world of these amazing movies to existing fans and a new generation of readers.”
Iole Lucchese, President of Scholastic Canada, commented:
“We are absolutely delighted to partner with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create products complementing the broadening scope of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. This publishing program for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, marks the start of an exciting year for J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, generating a magical publishing moment for Canadian fans and readers.”
Chief Executive of HarperCollins UK, Charlie Redmayne, commented:
“We are delighted to be publishing the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them tie-in books. The film promises to be a spectacular rendering of the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling, and the books will be the perfect companions for fans everywhere.”
President and CEO of HarperCollins Worldwide, Brian Murray, said:
“For the first time we are able to seamlessly plan, coordinate and integrate book publication of film tie-in editions across multiple languages and markets with Warner Bros. Consumer Products in North America and internationally to ensure the widest possible readership and awareness of the books and the film.
You can read the full press releases over at Mugglenet, here, and our coverage of the original announcement here!
Incredibly successful, Tony-award winning, Olivier-award winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producer, Sonia Friedman, sat down for an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Kirsty Lang. The two talked of how the Harry Potter sequel came to be–how an idea was developed into producing a play.
Though J.K. Rowling has played a large part in the writing and production of the Harry Potter sequel, Sonia Friedman and a fellow producer had the idea for a Harry Potter play, a new story, and brought it to Rowling’s attention. While working on the script for Fantastic Beasts, Jo turned down the offer to write the script for Cursed Child and handed over the reigns of her world to Jack Thorn.
Sonia Friedman was very clear in emphasizing that Jo has been incredibly instrumental, “very crucial,” “very involved in the story,” and apart of all aspects of the production process for Cursed Child. After Jo said “yes,” and her gave approval to explore the idea, she was introduced to John Tiffany who lead her to Jack Thorn.
Friedman also addressed her responsibility for casting, and the discussion around Noma Dumezweni playing Hermione. Dumezweni is an incredibly talented actress, and her performance in workshops won her the role of Hermione. When Friedman was asked if she was purposefully making a political statement about race with Dumezweni’s casting, she said no, “not in the casting of Hermione.”
Sonia Friedman goes on to talk about her other plays, the beginning of her career, and the difference between working on the London West End and on Broadway.
The entire interview (only 28 minutes long) can be heard here.
It’s always difficult to narrow down the teetering pile of “Books I Loved” and the tottering pile of “Books to be Read” to a manageable number. Here are just a few middle grade novels author Sarah Dooley loved, and a few more she's looking forward to reading.
Get those 2016 Christmas wish-lists ready! Earlier this morning, Business Wire released the press announcement of publishing partners that will be assisting in the creation and distribution of Fantastic Beasts merchandise and companion books.
We will see the familiar crew coming together–Scholastic, the major American publisher of Harry Potter, HarperCollins, publishers of Harry Potter film companion books such as Harry Potter: The Creature Vault and Harry Potter: The Character Vault and more, and Insight Editions, who have worked on Harry Potter collectors titles in the past–are all on board.
Business Wire reported on the three publishing companies involvement in the project, saying:
“Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, has a multi-year global publishing deal for books based on the upcoming films and the Harry Potter™ film franchise. The extensive licensed publishing agreement includes all language rights for new movie tie-in books in multiple formats. Under the agreement, Scholastic will publish children’s movie tie-in books for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and its sequels, as well as tie-in books based on the original eight Harry Potter films.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will also be supported by HarperCollins, the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, which has been awarded global publishing rights to the films for adult tie-in books. The HarperCollins titles will delve into the making of the film and include details about the process of art and design, interviews with the cast and filmmakers, and interactive formats such as coloring books and postcard collections.
“Insight Editions, a long-time publisher of a wide range of books and collectible products for the Harry Potter film franchise, has also acquired rights to a global publishing program in support of the new films that returns fans to the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling. The program, which launches in Fall 2016, will include deluxe novelty and paper engineered books across a variety of formats.”
Business Wire goes on to give back ground synopsis’s on Fantastic Beasts, J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. and all three publishers. For more information, read the original article, here.
Every year, Time Magazine gathers a list of the most influential people on the internet. Not surprisingly, our favorite tweeting author has made the list. J.K. Rowling took the number 8 spot on the list of 30 most influential internet users in 2016.
J.K. Rowling is a funny woman, and she loves springing the best kind of jokes and surprises on her Twitter. But what happens when she brings her spunk from the Twitterverse to the real world? Sheer wonderfulness.
This week, J.K. Rowling paid a surprise visit to her favorite Scottish Library. It all began with a little joking around, a little bribing (who can resist tea and cake), and a little magic. Radio Times tracked the whole episode, as it took place over Twitter, of course.
Then it happened. It actually happened. It all became so very real!
The one-minute video promotes the history of America as never heard or seen before, more magical and amazing than we know thus far. The video also links all of this new material and information about the Wizarding World to the upcoming series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
There will be four new stories released throughout the week. According to EW, the Telegraph, and Pottermore, we may expect the first story tomorrow, March 8, and the last story this Friday, March 11. Pottermore reports:
You’ve got four days of new writing by J.K. Rowling to look forward to – as always, remember to breathe.
…there’s just so much more to tell you about witches and wizards across the world.
Magic in North America will bring to light the history of this previously unexplored corner of the wizarding world in the run up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And you’ll want to get up to speed before the film comes around in November.
It’s going to be quite a week. Check back on Pottermore tomorrow at 2pm GMT to read the first piece.
The video gave a preview of what to expect with North American wizarding history–topics covering the new North American School, Ilvermorny, “Skin-Walkers” (implying Native American tribal legends or history), the infamous Salem Witch trials (which leads to a very strict statute of secrecy within the United States), and MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America).
Even with these writings, this new world and new material will come to life on screen through the Fantastic Beasts series. Possibly more information about North American history will be given in the first movie than we are given this week. It would be great if this new series, revolving around the globe trotting Newt, explored different parts of the world in the following films (perhaps visiting other Wizarding Schools that were revealed earlier this year).
Much more to come! Keep an eye on Pottermore and Leaky.
Part one of a History of Magic in North America covers the “fourteenth century-seventeenth century.” Of course, wizards new about the “New World” of North America long before European explores discovered the continents. This is of course, due to Native American wizards being in contact with their indigenous brothers and sisters around the world.
For those of you longing for a first look at Native American tradition and how it fits into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, you’ve got it! The legend of “skin-walkers” originates about Native American witches and wizards. J.K. Rowling writes:
“In the Native American community, some witches and wizards were accepted and even lauded within their tribes, gaining reputations for healing as medicine men, or outstanding hunters. However, others were stigmatised for their beliefs, often on the basis that they were possessed by malevolent spirits.
“The legend of the Native American ‘skin walker’ – an evil witch or wizard that can transform into an animal at will – has its basis in fact. A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi, that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.”
Of course, Native American’s are particularly gifted in plant and animal magic. They are also similar to African witches and wizards, in that they do not use wands. Wands are a very European method of making magic more precise. To read more about this first bit of American magical history, visit Pottermore, here.
In the muggle world, Emma Watson has become a feminist figurehead as the United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. She has created gender equality campaigns, a feminist book club, and given many speeches and interviews about her views on women in society, her latest with Esquire magazine.
It is International Women’s Day, and Emma is blowing up her own Twitter, as she helps women around the world celebrate being a woman. Even J.K. Rowling, one of the most influential women in the world, took a break from explaining her first North American Magic history lesson to chime in.
Emma Watson and J.K. Rowling are just a couple of the leading women from the Harry Potter family–Evanna and Bonnie have been making headlines and spreading their positive influence throughout the film industry as well.
All these women fell into the spotlight through their role in the beloved Harry Potter series, which also sports a lot of powerhouse women–Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Tonks, Molly Weasley, Fleur Delacour, and so many more. Let’s face it, Harry would have gotten no where fast without these women behind him.
Hermione is the brains of the operation, but she is also very brave and has a good heart. Like Emma Watson, she was passionate about causes she cared, wether it was S.P.E.W. or the D.A. As the brightest witch of her age, she was one who could go anywhere and do anything. She was Miss Independent but still relied on her loving relationships with others.
Luna Lovegood taught girls to be themselves, no matter what. Luna is unique and quirky, and often her personality is the butt of jokes and the subject of bullying. However, Luna never let that deter her. She took it in stride, stayed true to herself, never wavering, and became one of Harry’s greatest allies. Luna had wit beyond measure, but she too was incredibly brave–unafraid to stand up for Harry despite being imprisoned by Lord Voldemort, and later globe trotting with her husband Rolf Scamander looking for fantastic beasts.
[Book] Ginny wasn’t Harry’s perfect match just because she was pretty. No, Ginny was perfect for Harry because she was fierce. She was just as good, if not better, at Quidditch as her fellow male wizarding athletes–she even went pro. She wasn’t dainty; with six older brothers, Ginny knew how to be rough as well as loving. She is particularly gifted at hexes.
Tonks and Fleur, as “Mad-Eye” (Barty Crouch Jr.) put it, are “as much a fairy princess as I am.” Both Tonks and Fleur are talented witches who know how to put up a good fight for those they love. As prominent members of the Order of the Phoenix, neither of them would let any dark wizard stand between them and their families, or standing up for what is right. In Tonks, we already see Hufflepuffs making valiant warriors, as well as being loyal and hard working.
Molly Weasley’s prowess stems way beyond page 736 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The woman was a full time mother to seven children–that in and of itself is applaudable. She had to raise Fred and George. As awesome as those two are, they were probably quite a handful growing up. Molly Weasley takes care of everyone she loves, not just her immediate family. She practically adopts Harry, and we know she would always be there for him no matter what, like any true mother.
Without any of these women, or any others in the Harry Potter books, the series would not have been the same. We hope everyone, especially women–both young and old, has had a happy International Women’s Day!
We all thought that the Salem Witch trials were bad (because they really were tragic), and the trials were what drove Wizards away from America, and more underground. However, as we discover in today’s background story from J.K. Rowling, the story gets a lot more complicated than than.
This morning, Pottermore released the third out of the four background writings about the Wizarding World in North America. Today’s writing focuses on the 18th century, in a piece titled “Rappaport’s Law.” Emily Rappaport was a president of MACUSA in the 1790’s. (Yes, another woman president!) She thought it best to totally segregate the magical and non-magical communities. Segregation happens quite a bit throughout American history.
“The matter was that much more serious because the breach came from within MACUSA itself.
“In brief, the catastrophe involved the daughter of President Rappaport’s trusted Keeper of Treasure and Dragots (the Dragot is the American wizarding currency and the Keeper of Dragots, as the title implies, is roughly equivalent to the Secretary of the Treasury). Aristotle Twelvetrees was a competent man, but his daughter, Dorcus, was as dim as she was pretty
“One day, at a local picnic, Dorcus Twelvetrees became greatly enamoured of a handsome No-Maj called Bartholomew Barebone. Unbeknownst to Dorcus, Bartholomew was a Scourer descendant. Nobody in his family was magic, but his belief in magic was profound and unshakeable, as was his conviction that all witches and wizards were evil.
“Totally oblivious to the danger, Dorcus took Bartholomew’s polite interest in her ‘little tricks’ at face value. Led on by her beau’s artless questions, she confided the secret addresses of both MACUSA and Ilvermorny, along with information about the International Confederation of Wizards and all the ways in which these bodies sought to protect and conceal the wizarding community.”
An interview with David Heyman (Producer) discusses working on Fantastic Beasts, and how J.K. Rowling provided a grounding to keep the films up to standards.
By writing the scripts and supervising on set, Jo has had a lot more involvement than the Potter films (for which she was also a Producer), setting the tone perfectly:
“Fantastic Beasts is very much in the spirit of the Potter books but it’s not filled with young children and their issues. I wouldn’t say it’s ‘dark’ but, as with all of Jo [Rowling]’s work, it’s not soft. There is material in all of the books that has a truth about life. Here, there’s darkness within. But there are also these creatures, and an awful lot of humour and heart – which I think will appeal to young and old alike.”
“Jo was on set and has been an incredible support to us. We’d run concepts by her, she’d give her thoughts and we’d adjust accordingly. She certainly was aware of all the lead casting choices before we finalised them.”
On Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander:
“Newt is someone who communicates better with his creatures than he does with people. He’s a Brit who finds himself in the US, and the [A]merican magical universe is different [from] the British one. Eddie was our first choice. He is very good at playing characters that are out of step, as it were, and bringing to them a real heart and compassion. He has a desire to bring truth to every moment. He’s very charming and appealing to men and women alike. And he’s a timeless actor, so he fits perfectly into 1920s New York.”
Heymen discusses the ‘beasts’ in the film, and the use of CGI rather than animatronics as used in the Potter films and seen at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. He assures us, however, that this will not impact the final result!:
“We’ve done a lot of research on movement and look because we wanted to make our creatures grounded. They should seem like they really could exist, so they’re not just pure fantasy.”
However, this morning a fan asked her about this project, and it appears that Jo may have given up on it – for now!
We can imagine how busy she must be, leading the double life of bestsellers Rowling / Galbraith, writing new wizarding world stories, leading the script for Fantastic Beasts and overseeing Cursed Child.
Speaking of Fantastic Beasts, Rowling also told us that she’d be watching a first cut of the film yesterday, reminding us just how close the release date really is! Well, that is if you’re patient enough to call November close…