Friday, July 6, 2018

Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic

by J. K. Rowling
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017. 143 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

As part of the 20th anniversary of release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the British Library created an exhibit highlighting the historical aspects of magic and shared original writing, illustrations, and notes from J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter:  A Journey Through A History of Magic takes readers through a series of seven Hogwarts classes and shows historical artifacts related to that topic, like a pack of divination playing cards from the 1740s or the tombstone of Nicolas Flamel. In addition, there are writings and illustrations from Rowling, including the original synopsis for the Philosopher’s Stone and a drawing of Harry and Hagrid riding the cart in Gringotts.

This is a fantastic book. There is a balance of new information, historical artifacts, and Jim Kay illustrations. I enjoyed reading the snippets from J.K. Rowling and seeing her illustrations of characters and scenes. The historical context provided a rich picture of how Harry Potter fits in the wider magical theology. I especially liked the chapters on Astronomy and Charms. Rowling’s depiction of the opening to Diagon Alley from 1990 is one of my favorite page spreads in the book. This is a great read for anyone who loves Harry Potter, magic, or museum catalogs.


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