Even if critics pooh-pooh the 146-minute movie about the first half of book No. 7, kids of all ages are going to flock to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.” To fully appreciate the Potter-phile phenomenon, bone up on the novels, the author, the stars, and the plot.
Read (or re-read) the seven-book series about an ordinary-but-brave orphaned wizard with a lightning bolt scar left over from the villainous Lord Voldemort’s attempt to murder him when he was a baby. (Most libraries own multiple copies of each title, or you can spring for the paperbacks or even a fancy hard-cover boxed set.) J.K. Rowling was a struggling, divorced single mom when she wrote the first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In 1998, Scholastic published the British author’s fast-moving, addictive tale, full of flying broomsticks, magical potions, unusual creatures, and loyal friends. Then, slowly but surely, it came out with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (June 1999), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (September 1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (July 2000), the 766-page Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix (June 2003), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 2005). In 2007, Rowling ended her seven-book series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don’t just see the film. As my daughter’s friend, 13-year-old Eleri Griffiths (who’s read Hallows “at least 10” times) says, “The movies are always different from the books.”)