I was introduced to Harry Potter on my twenty-third birthday. I was working as a counselor with the teen travel camp at the JCC in Wilmington, Delaware when, during the second week of camp, one of my co-counselors, whom I hardly new, handed me a hardcover copy of The Goblet of Fire.
The book was massive. And it was the fourth book in a series I’d never heard of. Also, why was someone I barely knew giving me a birthday present?
But I was totally polite. I thanked her warmly.
And then I went to a bookstore to find the first book, because obviously if I was going to read this thing it was going to be in order.
And that was that. I didn’t love the first book, but I was thoroughly enamoured of the excitement around the books (which I finally noticed now that I was in the know).
I found J.K. Rowling’s prose to be a little rough around the edges, but man did I love Hermione. And Hagrid. And hippogryphs (were they in Book One? No matter.).
The day Greg and I got married for the first time (in our living room, four months before our bigger wedding), his grandfather took the lot of us – over a dozen extended family members – to see the first Harry Potter film. It was opening weekend. Some people slept through it. Greg and I loved it. We made an annual tradition to see the new Harry Potter movie each fall on that date, until they shifted to releasing new installations in the summertime. So then we’d go around my birthday instead.
As the series progressed, I began to appreciate it more and more. Always a fan of not pulling punches, especially in children’s literature, I loved that the books got darker and darker, more intense and scary. I liked that the tales became more nuanced and complex. And how Rowling’s prose seemed to improve with each book, keeping up with the increasing sophistication of her characters as they grew up.
The new illustrated version of The Philosopher’s Stone came out the fall before my son turned five, and I bought a copy the moment I discovered it. I kept it wrapped on a high shelf until his fifth birthday, and on that night we started reading it together.
During that reading, I discovered I’d been too harsh when I was twenty-three. Reading the book aloud to my awed child, I saw how inevitable it was that this tale became a classic. Watching my son’s face as he discovered along with Harry that wizardry is real… Well. This book is damn near perfect. (We read the second illustrated version around his sixth birthday, and will read the third after it comes out around his seventh.)
Today, on the twentieth anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter book, I’ve been smiling all day. How wonderful that books bring these spectacular stories into people’s lives all over the world. That they give children and adults alike something to dream and think about, to pretend and imagine.
When did you first discover Harry Potter? What do you think about it, all these years later?
I had a few minutes to pop into a bookstore yesterday, just for fun. I always read as many staff-recommendation cards as I can when I’m in a bookstore – do you?
This one grabbed my eye, and I did indeed flip to page 50. Which made me laugh out loud. Thus convinced that Lydia Davis and I belong together, I bought a copy of the book.
I’m so glad I stopped into that shop! I do, indeed, think that Lydia Davis and I belong together, yet I’m confident I’d not have picked up her work had it not been for this card.
For #MakeMakingFun, I’ve been trying to explore the vast array of craft books I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s always so exciting to buy craft books or borrow them from the library. And then I let them sit. Alone. Unopened. It’s like the opposite of having fun with them.
It’s ridiculous and I’m determined to stop doing it.
So last week, I cracked the spine of a book I bought ages ago called Water Paper Paint, by Heather Smith Jones.
And I did the first and second projects in it. I thought I loved circles, but didn’t love making them in the first project. But the second project? The second project was making squares. Watercolour squares all connected in a colourful grid all cozy and wonderful. I think I’ll be painting lots more squares in the near future. Mmm. Squares.
Want to join in on the adventure of having more fun making stuff? Get a #MakeMakingFun prompt every Friday in my newsletter!
The older I get, the more I value my relationship with my high-school best friend. As might have been predicted back in our days of shoving notes through each other’s locker vents, I ended up moving as far away from our hometown as I could, and she ended up moving across the street from her childhood home. When we were teenagers, our differences kept our friendship interesting, if not occasionally fraught with adolescent angst. As we get older, it’s our similarities that make me smile that much brighter.
But still, when M texted me last month with a photo of her new Birkenstocks, which are the same kind as mine but in a brighter colour, I marvelled at how we never had the same taste in fashion before this decade. I’m more comfortable about what I wear now, I suppose, and she’s more adventurous.
So imagine my delight when, a couple of years ago, after I posted a photo from the knitting book Huge & Huggable Mochimochi, M begged me to knit her then-two-year-old daughter a capybara. My high-school friend would have thought a big knitted rodent was weird. My adult friend loved it as much as I do. And so obviously I knitted it, and I loved knitting it, and I think I’ll end up knitting another at some point.
From the brain of the same woman who designs knitting patterns for ginormous rodents and tiny gnomes and unicorns comes Adventures in Mochimochiland. Which is a storybook. About teeny-tiny knitted creatures and donuts and things. With patterns at the end so you can make those teeny tiny things. It has nothing to do with my best friend. Nor does it have anything to do with giant knitted rodents. I just felt like telling that story.
Adventures in Mochimochiland is unlike any knitting book I’ve ever seen, by a woman who has made other brilliant knitting books that are like none I’ve ever seen, and my love for it is complete and unqualified.
That is all.
PS I’m starting to use some affiliate links here and there on the blog. It’s an experiment.