Gr 4-7-Harry Potter has spent 11 long years living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, surely the vilest household in children's literature since the family Roald Dahl created for Matilda (Viking, 1988). But like Matilda, Harry is a very special child; in fact, he is the only surviving member of a powerful magical family. His parents were killed by the evil Voldemort, who then mysteriously vanished, and the boy grew up completely ignorant of his own powers, until he received notification of his acceptance at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once there, Harry's life changes dramatically. Hogwarts is exactly like a traditional British boarding school, except that the professors are all wizards and witches, ghosts roam the halls, and the surrounding woods are inhabited by unicorns and centaurs. There he makes good friends and terrible enemies. However, evil is lurking at the very heart of Hogwarts, and Harry and his friends must finally face the malevolent and powerful Voldemort, who is intent on taking over the world. The delight of this book lies in the juxtaposition of the world of Muggles (ordinary humans) with the world of magic. A whole host of unique characters inhabits this world, from the absentminded Head Wizard Dumbledore to the sly and supercilious student Draco Malfoy to the loyal but not too bright Hagrid. Harry himself is the perfect confused and unassuming hero, whom trouble follows like a wizard's familiar. After reading this entrancing fantasy, readers will be convinced that they, too, could take the train to Hogwarts School, if only they could find Platform Nine and Three Quarters at the King's Cross Station.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
With more than seven million copies of Sorcerer's Stone and its two sequels sold in the U.S. in a year's time, it would be hard to find many school-age children who haven't at least heard of Harry Potter. British author Rowling's tales of a young wizard-in-training who attends the unusual Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have enchanted children (and their parents, too) like no books before them. Now, with this sharp audio production, those who haven't yet met Harry will soon be swept up in the fun, and established Potter fans will delight in hearing Harry's adventures anew. British actor and Broadway star Dale is an inspired choice as narrator, reading with a light, assured air that makes Harry's fantastic, sometimes dangerous, world very real, while never losing sight of Rowling's humorous underpinnings. His numerous vocal characterizations are dead-on, especially his fast-talking take on Harry's sweet but overachieving witch friend Hermione Granger. A gruff and sensitive Hagrid (the school's gamekeeper), evil Malfoy, kindly Dumbledore and appropriately Scottish Professor McGonagall are also crisply distinctive. The combination of Rowling's exquisitely evocative writing and Dale's nimble reading make this a magical addition to the bewitching Harry Potter canon. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.