The latest big book news is all about J.K. Rowling, starting with last week’s announcement of the storyline of her first book that’s meant for grownups — The Casual Vacancy will focus on small-town politics and is scheduled for September release. But, of course, this won’t be the first book of Rowling’s that many of us (including us adults) have read.
If you’re still craving more Harry Potter, Rowling has your answer. Pottermore is interactive website that’s both a complement to and supplement for the Harry Potter universe. And, as of yesterday, it’s open to everyone.
Pottermore is certainly set up for kids (age appropriateness is the same as for the books), but I enjoyed it too. (Of course, I also enjoyed visiting the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, as evidenced by the above photo, so take that as you will.) To protect children from creepy Internet predators, you don’t have control over your username, and your avatar is a magical animal, not a personal profile picture.
Individuality is expressed in other ways. Users are encouraged to submit drawings and paintings that go along with the books, and these are featured on the site’s main pages. And the questions used to determine wand and house selection are designed to help kids think about what makes them individually unique and special. Of course, the really fun perks are the Red Quills — Easter Eggs hidden within the game that link to new insights and backstories from Rowling about the books and movies.
The game itself follows the storyline of the Potter books, and the best way to play it is to read the book along with the game. (I did this by accident — it took awhile to get approved to play, so I killed time by reading the first few chapters of book one, and it definitely made for a better experience.) I think that’s what Rowling is going for with this whole project — a website that enhances the stories in the books insteadof replacing them.
I found the game a little slow to start, but it got to be more fun once I got my Hogwarts letter, opened an account at Gringotts (using game Galleons, not real money), and had my wand chosen by a virtual Ollivander (I’m black walnut with phoenix feather core, in case you’re wondering).
Even if you’re read Potter before, the new site is a great excuse to get back into it, especially if you’re reading along with your kids. I pulled out my old copy of Sorcerer’s Stone, but if you’re looking for a new one, click here to order, or stop by Church Street anytime.