Archive for Sunday, October 3, 1999

October 3, 1999


J.K. Rowling's second Harry Potter book lives up to the reputation established by her first novel.

It seems all the world is wild about Harry these days, and with good reason.

The bookshelves are filled with the magic of Harry Potter. Last year, author J.K. Rowling came out with her best-selling book "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." This summer saw the release of two new Harry Potter books, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Here's a look at the first of those two.

"Chamber of Secrets" (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Press, $17.95) opens with Harry on summer break from his first amazing year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and living with the oppressive Dursleys, relatives who have no appreciation for the amazing world hidden from their closed minds.

Harry can't wait to return to the school where he began to blossom and develop his inherited talents. But Harry receives a warning from a self-destructive, guilt-ridden house elf, Dobby, that he'll be killed if he goes back.

Of course, Harry can't even consider staying on with the Dursleys, who've been known to lock him in the cupboard under the stairs, and one night is rescued from the prisonlike-abode by his best friend, Ron Weasley, and his twin brothers. The three, also from the world of magic, happen to be out for a joy-ride in their father's enchanted, flying automobile.

As Potter leaves the world of Muggles, people with no magic skills, and heads into the other world inhabited by mystical creatures and people with enchantment talents, the fun and amazement explode on the pages. Rowling has crafted another book that pits good against evil in an imagination-filled setting that leaves readers dazzled and inspired.

Potter and his friends, Ron and Hermione Granger, use their magic skills and intellect to solve mysterious events happening at the school. Along the way, the trio of 12-year-olds test their skills and grow in ways they never imagined.

Through the course of the school year they are helped or hindered by ghosts, a publicity-seeking wizard, a phoenix, giant spiders, a diary full of memories but without any writing, and much more.

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is a book for all ages. The writing flows off the pages and into the movie screen in your head. Rowling's works fall into the class of great children's stories that older youths and teens treasure and youngsters will happily sit still for as parents read aloud.

Next month I'll tell you about Rowling's third book flying out of the bookstores, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Author and artist Eric Carle always seems to click with younger readers. This time he's literally clicking.

"The Very Clumsy Click Beetle" (Philomel, $21.99) follows a young click beetle through a long day of exploration until it accidentally lands on its back.

An older click beetle offers to help the young one right itself, but only after a good night's sleep.

In the morning the old beetle shows the young one the secret behind the click and flip maneuver needed to land on its feet. The youngster, of course, learns that only lots of practice will make him better at landing right-side up.

Carle always manages to give young readers a secondary theme to grasp in his stories. In "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" readers could learn the days of the weeks. Here, he gives children the parts of the day.

But there's even something extra in "The Clumsy Click Beetle." As certain pages are turned the readers can actually hear the young beetle clicking its way to success.

Sounds great to me.

If you're a mouse who has sailed "the Seven Sewers" with your friends, you've probably developed relationships that will stand the test of time -- but first you'll have to take the test.

"Horace and Morris but Mostly Delores," by James Howe and illustrated by Amy Walrod, is a book for anyone who's ever had a friend or contemplated getting one.

Three good mouse friends, two boys and one girl, are split apart when the boy mice decide to join an all-boy mouse club. It's not that they don't like Delores, it's just that they want to see what the club has to offer. Delores, in the meantime, joins an all-girl mouse club. Trouble is, none of them finds the clubs very fulfilling. It takes courage, mostly Delores', to bring the trio back together, but they find they're better off in the end.

"Horace and Morris but Mostly Delores" (Atheneum, $16) is a delightfully written and illustrated story about being true to your friends and yourself.

These are good mice to have hanging around your house.

-- Jill Hummels is features editor of the Journal-world and the mother of Haley, 7, and Tess, 6. Her phone number is 832-7150. Her e-mail address is

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