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1. New Details Revealed About Harry Potter Wizarding Schools

Author J.K. Rowling has revealed new details about several wizarding schools, in a new post on pottermore.com.

For instance, the name of the North American-based school is Ilvermorny and it is likely located somewhere in the North East. Actress Evanna Lynch revealed the new details by reading from Rowling’s latest piece on Pottermore.com at a Harry Potter event held over the weekend.

“I am assured by Pottermore that more will be revealed on Ilvermorny soon,” said Lynch at the event.

The name of the Brazilian wizarding school, Castelobruxo, is also revealed in the new post. This school is guarded by Caipora, small and furry spirit-beings who come out at night. In addition, students at the Japanese wizarding school, Mahoutokoro, are given enchanted robes which grow as they age. And the African school, Uagadou, is carved out of the mountainside and is shrouded in a mist.

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2. Cuddli hosted a Waffle Party Singles Brunch for Geeks at Meltdown

CZbPgpeUEAA9cRp  I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I noticed Meltdown Comics tweeted a savory picture maple syrup bottles, butter, and waffle makers on Saturday. The image was accompanied with “#Waffle party prepping with @CuddliApp. Singles mingle, 11AM.” Naturally, I jumped from my mattress off the floor and got ready to eat some waffles in 20 […]

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3. Five Family Favorites with Arwen Elys Dayton, Author of Traveler

Arwen Elys Dayton, author of Traveler, selected these five family favorites.

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4. Warner Bros. to Host a Valentine’s Day Banquet at Hogwarts

Valentine's Day at Hogwarts (GalleyCat)Have you ever wanted to experience a romantic moment at Hogwarts? The movie studio behind the Harry Potter film franchise has decided to host a Valentine’s Day banquet inside the Great Hall of the famous wizarding school.

TIME reports that this event will take place on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14. Guests will be greeted with canapés and a special Love Potion cocktail before moving on to a three-course dinner. Click here to download the dinner menu.

According to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London website, dinner will be followed by an “exclusive after-hours access to the Studio Tour with the chance to see sets such as the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the Weasley kitchen at The Burrow and the Malfoy Manor dining table, before enjoying a drink on Platform 9 3/4. Following a tankard of Butterbeer in the backlot cafe, you will be able to wander up the wizarding shopping street of Diagon Alley, before arriving at the breathtaking Hogwarts castle model for after-dinner tea, coffee and chocolates. The evening concludes when you return to the Studio Tour lobby to collect your chosen wand.” (via Cosmopolitan)

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5. Alan Rickman, Harry Potter Movie Actor, Has Died

Alan Rickman, the actor who played Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, has died.

According to a family statement: “The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.”

The British actor got his start in acting at the age of 26 at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), after a short stint as a graphic designer, according to IMDB. He worked in theater, film and television for more than forty years. His film credits also include working alongside Bruce Willis in Die Hard and he played Colonel Brandon in the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

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6. New Piece on Merope Gaunt Published on Pottermore

Tom RiddleA new feature piece has been published on Pottermore called “The Sad History of Merope Gaunt.” This minor character from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has become well-known as the mother of the antagonist, Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Lord Voldemort).

SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know more, you should stop reading now!

Here’s an excerpt from the post: “It might be argued that Voldemort grew up devoid of love because his mother died for want of it, and that his father’s love was stolen rather than earned. Perhaps if he’d had any understanding of the difference between genuine love and the kind that you compel, Voldemort might have had a better grasp of its power.”

In the past, Rowling has written essays on singing sorceress Celestina Warbeck, the Dursleys, and the symbolism behind Albus Dumbledore and Rubeus Hagrid’s names. Which character from the Harry Potter universe would you like to learn more about?

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7. 10 Reasons Why Going to Hogwarts Would Actually Be Terrible

Hogwarts by Kazu Kibuishi10 Reasons Why Going to Hogwarts Would Actually Be Terrible

Recently, Sonja (the Headmistress of The STACKS) asked me to do the hardest thing I have ever done in my WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE: “Can you list ten reasons why going to Hogwarts would actually be terrible?”

Of course I could think of one very obvious reason. “Um, because eventually I would have to graduate and NOT ATTEND HOGWARTS ANYMORE!” But that was just one reason. So I racked my brains for weeks trying to think of nine more reasons why. When you think about it, though, a lot of pretty terrifying stuff happened to Harry Potter and his friends while they were at Hogwarts. So behold a list you never thought you would (or should) see: Ten Reasons Why Going to Hogwarts Would Actually Be Terrible.

  1. Getting detention. Detention at Hogwarts is definitely not like detention at a regular school! Even if you don’t have to repeat Harry’s ghastly “I must not tell lies” ordeal under the cruel watch of Delores Umbridge, punishments at Hogwarts can be very creative . . . and NOT in a good way.
  2. Accidentally getting attacked by a Hippogriff or one of the seemingly endless number of terrifying (but sometimes cool and nice) creatures on Hogwarts grounds. Ouch!
  3. Pranks from fellow students. Forget saran wrap on the toilet seat and permanent marker mustaches—can you imagine how terrifying it would be to find yourself the victim of one of Fred and George’s pranks. Imagine being unable to stop hiccuping for hours, or to find your dormitory suddenly filled with the super-gross stench of stink pellets?
  4. Getting a weird and/or gross patronus. Discovering that your patronus is not an elegant gazelle or noble leopard, but a waddling rat, would be incredibly disappointing. Of course, none of that really matters much when you are being attacked by an ACTUAL Dementor on your way to school!
  5. Being away from home for so long. Is it just me, or do semesters at Hogwarts seem to go on forever? If your family is really far away, homesickness could be a very real problem.
  6. Potions class with Professor Snape. He redeemed himself in Book #7, but Professor Snape was still a really strict teacher!
  7. Being late to class because you fell through a step on the moving staircases. Actually, falling through a step on the moving staircases in general! And if you get motion sickness, moving staircases, period!!
  8. Rowdy Quidditch fans. Muggle-sports fans can already get wild (and dangerous), but can you imagine how outrageous Quidditch fans get?! I don’t think I want to!
  9. Taking a Puking Pastille to get out of class, but losing the cure. That’s my nightmare.
  10. Having to graduate and say goodbye!

And so ends my list of Ten Reasons Why Going to Hogwarts Would Actually Be Terrible. What do you think? Can you think of another reason (or two) why going to Hogwarts might not be 100% awesome (though still totally worth it)? Share your ideas in the Comments below!

See ya,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

Hogwarts Castle illustration by Kazu Kibuishi

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8. Harry Potter Joins iBooks Bestsellers List

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling has joined the iBooks Bestsellers List this week at No. 13. New enhanced editions of the Harry Potter books came out this fall.

Apple has released the list of Bestselling iBooks from the week of 12/27/15. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is No. 1 on the list and The Deal by Elle Kennedy held the No. 2 position.

We have the entire list for you after the jump.

iBooks US Bestseller List- Paid Books Week 12/27/15

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 9780698185395 – (Penguin Publishing Group)
2. The Deal by Elle Kennedy – 9780994054401 – (Elle Kennedy)
3. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham – 9780385539449 – (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
4. Cross Justice by James Patterson – 9780316407144 – (Little, Brown and Company)
5. The Force Awakens (Star Wars) by Alan Dean Foster – 9781101965504 – (Random House Publishing Group)
6. The Guilty by David Baldacci – 9781455586417 – (Grand Central Publishing)
7. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – 9781466850606 – (St. Martin’s Press)
8. See Me by Nicholas Sparks – 9781455520596 – (Grand Central Publishing)
9. The Martian by Andy Weir – 9780804139038 – (CrownArchetype)
10. Tom Clancy Commander in Chief by Mark Greaney – 9780698410619 – (Penguin Publishing Group)
11. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 9781476746609 – (Scribner)
12. The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins – 9780062381637 – (William Morrow)
13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – 9781781105849 – (Pottermore)
14. Grey by E L James – 9781101946350 – (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
15. Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich – 9780345542984 – (Random House Publishing Group)
16. Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill & Lisa Pulitzer – 9780062248497 – (William Morrow)
17. Micro by Michael Crichton & Richard Preston – 9780062094735 – (Harper)
18. The Crossing by Michael Connelly – 9780316225892 – (Little, Brown and Company)
19. Precious Gifts by Danielle Steel – 9780804179645 – (Random House Publishing Group)
20. Christmas From Hell by R.L. Mathewson – 9781310090110 – (R.L. Mathewson)

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9. How to Buy Tickets for the New Harry Potter Play: INFOGRAPHIC

harry potter logoFor some, the day before Christmas will be devoted to last minute gift shopping. If you still need to find a present for the Harry Potter fan in your life, the Pottermore team has created “a visual guide to buying tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

We’ve embedded the full infographic below for you to explore further—what do you think? The opening date for this London-based theatrical show has been set for July 2016.

Cursed Child Ticket (GalleyCat)

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10. Hermione, headcanons, and kindred spirits

harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child

Jamie Parker (Harry), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione), and Paul Thornley (Ron).

Recently, the two-part what-happens-next-in-the-Wizarding-World play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child announced three key cast members: Jamie Parker as adult Harry, Paul Thornley as adult Ron, and Noma Dumezweni as adult Hermione. Congratulations to them all, and I hope the plays are as good as the books, and I really hope they make it to the States in some form. But more than all that…

WOC HERMIONE! WOC HERMIONEEEEEEE! (That’s Woman of Color, or Witch of Color, or however you want to think of it.)

It’s natural to react with surprise to this announcement. After all, we’ve seen Hermione portrayed in eight movies by Emma Watson, who grew into the role and did a lovely job, and who looks nothing like Noma Dumezweni. But the plays aren’t sequels to the movies; they’re sequels to the books. And in the books, Hermione’s race is never specified.

Urban Dictionary gives the following definition for the not-in-American Heritage term headcanon: “Used by followers of various media of entertainment, such as television shows, movies, books, etc. to note a particular belief which has not been used in the universe of whatever program or story they follow, but seems to make sense to that particular individual, and as such is adopted as a sort of ‘personal canon.’”

A lot of people have headcanons about Hermione. After all, she’s a character many a) identify with and b) want to emulate. She’s a little awkward. She doesn’t always fit in. She’s the brightest witch of her age, she’s Gryffindor-brave, she has Hogwarts: A History pretty much memorized, and — let’s face it — the wizarding world would be pretty much screwed without her. She’s a kickass role model for anyone of any background, and if your version of her looks like you, then who says you can’t be like her? (Okay, maybe you can’t create Polyjuice Potion or wield a Time-Turner, but you can be Gryffindor-brave and the brightest Muggle of your age.) That’s probably why lots of fans have already created images of “racebent” Hermione (along with other characters — the practice seems especially common in the Harry Potter fandom.

Hermione of color is there if you want her to be.

The matter of Hermione’s race reminded me of a similarly malleable matter: Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. (Insert your favorite are-they-or-aren’t-they pair here.) The “bosom friends” of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books might have a beautifully devoted, platonic friendship featuring a flowery vocabulary (Anne’s). Or maybe, just maybe, one or both of them is romantically invested in that friendship. Maybe one or both of these creative, caring, widely beloved characters is queer (probably bisexual, since both marry men later), and whether or not that’s the case, they’re still creative, caring, and widely beloved. I’ve read it both ways. I’ve loved it both ways.

Does it matter what the author was thinking? It’s lovely to see J. K. Rowling’s public support of the recent casting (which doesn’t actually discount either reading of Hermione’s race), but if she’d said nothing, either reading would still be equally valid. Was L. M. Montgomery thinking of same-sex romance or attraction so long ago? Who knows? What was in her head doesn’t have to be in readers’ heads. Readers’ headcanons are their own.

All this isn’t to say that it’s unimportant to have characters who are overtly from underrepresented backgrounds. It’s extremely important — without them, it’s way too easy to default to exclusively straight, white (and Christian, and cisgendered, and typically abled) headcanons. But there’s also something special about cases like this where one can choose a headcanon for oneself. And to have this one legitimized after all these years is even more special. There’s no rule that says anyone’s personal view of Hermione has to change with this announcement, but I hope that at least some people who found it surprising asked themselves, “Is there any reason Hermione can’t look this way?” And I hope they answered themselves, “Nope!”

The post Hermione, headcanons, and kindred spirits appeared first on The Horn Book.

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11. Actors Cast to Play Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Cursed Child Play

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Art (GalleyCat)Three actors have been cast for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child show: Jamie Parker will play Harry Potter, Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, and Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione Granger. Dumezweni hails from South Africa; many have taken notice that a woman of color will hold the role of the clever muggle-born witch.

Here’s more from The Daily Mail:”In the eight films Harry, Hermione and Ron were played by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, ending with The Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 2011. However, Rowling never made a point of Hermione’s ethnicity, and there’s no textual evidence to indicate that she is, necessarily, white.”

The Guardian reports that the opening date for this two-part play has been set for July 2016. The story takes place nineteen years after the events of the Battle of Hogwarts. Earlier this year, J.K. Rowling revealed at the Pottermore website that this project will serve as the eighth story of her beloved book series. Follow this link to watch a video that showcases artwork. (via BuzzFeed)

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12. Trailer Unveiled for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie

Warner Bros. Pictures has unleashed the first trailer for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie.

The video embedded above offers glimpses of Eddie Redmayne as the magical zoologist, Newt Scamander. Fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series will recognize that character as the author of a textbook incorporated into the curriculum at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Other actors who have signed on for this project include Colin Farrell as a wizard named Graves, Dan Fogler as a muggle named Jacob and Jenn Murray in a mystery role. This Harry Potter spinoff, scripted by Rowling herself, will hit theaters on Nov. 18, 2016.

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13. American Word for Muggle

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemWhat? Americans Don’t Say Muggle?!

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. 2015 Warner Bros Entertainment inc.

You know that the new wizarding movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them written by J.K. Rowling is coming out in November, 2016. The movie will be set in New York in 1926, and here is a surprising fact I learned about the word Muggle: American wizards don’t use the word “Muggle” to describe non-magical people!

If you are a wizard from America, then you already know this, and I’m sorry to be boring you, but for the rest of us, this might come as a surprise: American wizards call us “No-Maj” like an abbreviation of “no magic.”

What?? All this time I’ve been referring to myself as a Muggle while all the American wizards were calling me No-Maj!

What do you think of the American word for Muggle? Tell us in the Comments.

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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14. Best Selling Kids Series | December 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store, First 100, is a great series for babies and toddlers ready to absorb information about the world around them.

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15. 10 Problems Only Harry Potter Fans Understand

harry potter irl 110 Problems Only Harry Potter Fans Understand

You know who you are. You fell in love at the first page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and you never looked back. But there are some things that people who have not read Harry Potter just don’t understand about you . . .

  1. You wish Hogwarts were real and you desperately want to get your Hogwarts letter.
  2. You try seriously hard to do magic and are frustrated when your “wand” (a.k.a. stick) does not work.
  3. Dobby, Fred Weasley, Professor Lupin, Snape, and Tonks.
  4. Trying to explain Quidditch to your non-Harry Potter friends so you can play it at recess.
  5. The movie did not include your favorite line or scene from the book.
  6. You scream while watching the movies, “That didn’t happen in the book!”
  7. When someone says, “JK” (for just kidding), you think, “Rowling.”
  8. You are desperately waiting for J.K. Rowling to write another children’s book.
  9. If it’s not Harry-related, you kind of don’t want to talk about it.
  10. Nothing else you read is ever as good as Harry Potter.

Can YOU relate to any of these? Leave a Comment to tell us your problems that only other Harry Potter fans understand!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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16. Follow Me to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

wizarding-world-of-harry-potterI went on an epic adventure to Universal Studios where I spent two days exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you have already been there, then you know how awesome it is. If not, I’m bringing the adventure to you!

On the first day, I went to Islands of Adventure to visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As soon as I walked through the Hogsmeade entrance, I felt like I had walked onto a movie set or a real Harry Potter dream. The ground is made of cobblestone; the buildings are all whimsical and pointy, and store windows have displays that actually move! (If you buy a wand from Ollivanders, you can activate the displays by waving your wand at them.)

hogsmeade-collage

In the middle of the crowd of witches, wizards, and Muggles, stood a large wooden cart with a wizard serving butterbeer. Since this is the beverage in the wizarding world, I had to give it a try. It has a surprisingly pleasant taste like butterscotch soda with a dollop of cream on top. Then I took a stroll through Honeydukes and bought my very own Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (and they do mean every flavor). I accidentally ate a vomit-flavored bean and it didn’t go so well.

After passing Three Broomsticks, I finally came to the massive Hogwarts castle. Although its size is impressive, it is nothing compared to the magical experience inside. The pictures move and talk; the ceiling snows, and you can watch Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione talk in some of the corridors. I won’t spill the beans on what the ride is like, but let’s just say it is awesome, scary, and exhilarating. I went on it twice and loved it both times!

diagon-alley-collage

On the second day, I went back to Hogsmeade to catch the Hogwarts Express which travels to King’s Cross Station, a.k.a. Platform 9¾. The exterior of the train is just like the movie in all red and black. Inside, there are cabins capable of holding 8-10 people. The ride, although short, is probably the best ride ever! The windows display scenic views of Hogwarts and show real wizards flying by on their broomsticks. Even the doors are animated. You can actually see and hear shadows of Harry and his friends walking by.

As soon as we stepped off the train, it felt like I had crossed the world and landed in London, a.k.a. Platform 9¾. The first place I wanted to go was Diagon Alley, but it was kind of hard to find. I had to really look at the small details of the map to see that Diagon Alley is actually hidden behind walls! You could easily walk past the entrance and not even notice it was there. It is a hidden passage which leads to another secret wall with an unfinished brick passageway just like when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time.

Diagon Alley is everything I thought it would be, and more! There is a store for almost everything a wizard or witch needs, including books, robes, owls, Quidditch supplies, wands, and even Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The most impressive structure is Gringotts Bank, complete with a dragon perched on top. Inside, there are life-sized goblins that move and even blink as they work behind their desks. To get to the 3-D ride, “Escape from Gringotts,” you travel on moving elevators just like the ones in the Ministry of Magic. I don’t want to reveal all of the details of the ride, but let’s just say water and fire are involved and it is absolutely incredible!

If you want to chat with me and other Harry Potter fans about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, join the Harry Potter Message Board here. Ask me any questions you want and I’ll try my best to be as detailed as possible. TTYL!

-Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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17. Best New Kids Stories | November 2015

Hot New Releases & Popular Kids Stories It's important to keep up on the hot new releases and popular kids' books as we enter the gift giving season!

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18. Fusenews: The Anti-Effacing Differencer

sleepingpuppy4Morning, folks.  Let’s see, let’s see.  After yesterday maybe it would be a good idea to do a post on rainbows and unicorns and cute little puppy dogs cavorting in the sun.  I’m a little exhausted after yesterday’s post so let’s just do a quickie Fusenews of wonderfullness instead.

  • Do you read Real Simple?  A familiar name might have snuck her way onto one of the pages.
  • Calling Caldecott addresses an issue that has always fascinated me. Why do some illustrators who have amazing illustrating chops never ever get Caldecotts?
  • Maybe 100 Scope Notes has the answer. In terms of publication dates, what month births the most Caldecotts? Travis Jonker finds the figures.  Be sure to read the statistics in the comments.  Truly we are living in the Age of Aquarius.

alma_logo_engIn case you missed it, 215 candidates from 59 countries are currently nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2016.  The Yanks are of particular interest.  There are the usual standbys and then there are folks like oral storyteller Anne Pellowski.  Wow!  Well done there.  I’m also going to check out Children’s Literature New England (CLNE) & The Examined Life (EXL), Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL), and Room to Read. I’m feeling a bit embarrassed that it took this nomination to learn about their work.

  • By the way, a show of hands.  How many of you knew about The Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards, which “seek to recognize excellence in multicultural poetry for youth, for readers at the primary level, middle level, and teens”?  Be honest.  It’s new to me too.  But it’s out there and they could do with some proactive publishing houses, large and small, sending in their nominees.  If you fit the bill, tell your publisher today.  You have until December 1st.
  • An interesting Pew Survey finding that teens are reading more than adults these days.  They do not ascribe any particular reason for the YA surge.  We know it cannot exist in a void, however, so I’m just going to congratulate the YA librarians out there.  You guys are doing a stellar job.  Keep up the good work.
  • “Please Don’t Agree with Me: the Need for Disagreement in Debates About Literature for Young People.”  That talk?  Given by Christopher Myers recently and recapped by Phil Nel.  I’m particularly interested in the part where Chris says that agreement can efface difference, whereas “Disagreement recognizes an actual difference.”  I think we can safely say that no differences were effaced in the last two weeks at this site.
  • Daily Image:

And Shannon Hale goes for the fancy fingernail book release win!

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19. Video Sunday: Hits ’em With His Head Edition

So, fun fact. I read a serious 2017 Newbery contender a couple months ago and it looks like they may release it in the nearish future (February 2nd). I’m calling 2016 as The Year of the Fox, by the way, since both Sara Pennypacker and Kathi Appelt have fox related middle grades on the horizon. This is a particularly nice little book trailer for the Pennypacker book, and not just because they get my current workplace correct. It’s a classy little number.

Betcha bottom dollar you’ll need to read it.

You know, when I hear about librarian parody videos, I naturally assume that they’re done of the latest, hottest song. It’s almost a relief to see one of, of all things, Bohemian Rhapsody. What’s next? Eye of the Tiger? Cause I’ll take it!

Thanks to Aunt Judy for the link.

As you may have heard, the internet being what it is, there’s a new illustrator of Harry Potter in town and his name is Jim Kay.  A whole host of new images were released the other day, and that was swell, but sometimes it’s nice to hear from the artist himself.

You know, I thought I’d posted this video before but it appears I somehow didn’t.  Ah well.  It isn’t a Video Sunday without at least one 80s style toy ad.  Such as it is.

Thanks to Dana Sheridan for the link!

And for today’s Off-Topic Video I’m going to say, “YES! I KNOW HE DOESN’T HIT THE BRICKS WITH HIS HEAD BUT WITH HIS FIST! THIS IS STILL FUNNY, CONSARN IT!” Phew! Had to get that out there.

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20. J.K. Rowling Surprises 3 Readers on Twitter

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21. Warner Bros. to Host Christmas Dinner at Hogwarts

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22. Studio Press and Scholastic to Publish a Harry Potter Coloring Book

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23. Harry Potter Leads iBooks Bestsellers List

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24. Harry Potter Stop-Motion Short Film Goes Viral

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25. New Harry Potter Play to Serve as the Eighth Story of the Series

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