With the new Harry Potter movie out, I decided that I would finally get around to reading the books and seeing what all the fuss is about. I understand that the later books aren’t quite as lightweight as this, but one must start at the beginning.
Thanks to my friend Erik I was able to read it in the original English, meaning the Queen’s English rather than the American English. I like American English just fine, but I wanted to read it as it was originally written, with trainers rather than sneakers and so on.
I find it vaguely insulting that the title was changed for American audiences, as if to say that Americans won’t know what a Philosopher’s Stone is. It had to be dumbed down and called the Sorcerer’s Stone? Really? I don’t know that there are any other substantive changes between the editions but it’s probably better that I not find out.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was written for children, of course. While it was a quick read and not very complex, I have to give Ms Rowling credit for writing a book aimed at children but which was not (American title notwithstanding) dumbed down for children. It was written in plain, direct English but it contained neither the stilted prose one finds in «young adult» literature nor the entirely predictable storylines in the same.
Overall I found it to be a commendable book which I’d be happy to see children reading. Did it grab me as an adult? Not really, but it didn’t bore me either, which means it would be suitable for an adult reading aloud. Though I’ve not been drawn into the Harry Potter craze, I can see why the line has been so successful.