Not all of the books on my bookshelf were published in the middle of the last century and I do have some 'modern' works that are a must-have of which the Harry Potter books are top of my list.
As I reflect on what to say about this first book I realise that it is nearly 16 years since it was published. I can recall that we had recently moved into our house and had our first child when I began hearing about these hot new children's books. This was before information was passed at the speed of light. News was forced to slowly filter out via the more traditional word of mouth and mentions in the paper. The copy I have on my shelf is dated 1997 but mentions the first three titles in the cover pages and was likely printed in 2000. I wasn't early to the scene of the Harry Potter juggernaut but as I read about Harry and Ron and Hermione I remember telling my better half that she had to read this, it was something special. I was right!
There has been so much hype around the Harry Potter phenomenon that going back to read the first novel again is a breath of fresh air. It moves at a terrific pace, is packed with ideas -big plot ideas that carry the seven books and small sorting hat, Diagon Alley, mirror of Erised, Quidditch ideas - and is funny. I think that with the latter part of the series being rather dark that one forgets that Rowling is very, very funny. She is also gifted with the naming of people and things, rarely misses a step in that regard and it is one of her under valued strengths. This is a laugh aloud book. Harry Potter is fast, fun, inventive and a delight.
I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that a children's book that could only be read by children wasn't much of a book, and in this regard Rowling nails it as well. This first book works as well for me as for my kids. Never too late to get on board the Hogwarts Express.