The theme of this Harry Potter Book Night is simple and well expresses life conditioned by the restrictions of the pandemic: Magical Travel. But evasion and the ability to recreate the pact with reality has always been part of the literary universe created by JK Rowling around the orphaned wizard at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And one need only look at the proof of the numbers to be sure that a dedicated confinement to reading and reinforced doses of fantasy are powerful viral loads: since the launch of the first volume, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stoneoccurred on June 26, 1997, data reveal that sales exceeded 500 million copies sold worldwide.
In Portugal, according to data provided by Editorial Presença, “more than two million copies” of books related to the work of the British writer have been sold to date, including the seven Harry Potter books (which are now in their 51st edition, with reprints), the illustrated editions of the saga, or even the volumes that explore secondary themes of the narrative such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the AgesWhere The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
The large community of Harry Potter admirers, and other characters such as Hermione, Ron or Dumbledore, among others, whose own growth has been accompanied by two or three generations of faithful readers, has its own date to mark these literary adventures: since 2014, the English publisher Bloomsbury dedicates the 3rd of February to magical celebrations in various countries of the world, with a broad program that explores Potter’s nooks, cosplay, mythology and iconography of this series.
Harry Potter is alive
This year, due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic situation, the 8th Night of the Harry Potter Books in Portugal was transformed into an exclusively online event that lasts until February 6 (the activities guide is available to the public at www.presenca.pt and is followed on the publisher’s Instagram). The epicenter of the celebrations takes place today, February 3, at 7 pm, with a live broadcast on Facebook by Editorial Presença, which counts with the participation of the Instituto de Magia Português (IMP), announced as the largest group of fans of Harry Potter. Participants can also register on the Event Map https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/discover/book-night-event-map/), where each participant, converted into a star, can see his or her other stars on the world map. And the Portuguese publisher is offering a 30% discount on the online purchase of the books that make up the series.
2022 marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most successful literary sagas, a success that also extends to the screen with eight films directed by Hollywood heavyweights – expected to open in theaters this year. Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets. Turning the wheels of the time machine, HBO Max presented on January 1 the documentary Harry Potter’s 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwartsa reunion of actors and crew in an exercise in nostalgia felt on and off screen. JK Rowling was not present except with archival footage (raising questions about whether the author was invited, as she has been involved in several controversies regarding her ambiguous position on the rights of the trans community), but actor Robbie Coltrane, Hagrid’s interpreter, attributed to him a merit, often repeated around the phenomenon: that his creation inspired young readers who “would never have picked up a book in their life” if it weren’t for the Harry Potter series.
Two decades after JK Rowling introduced the world to her wizards and muggles (normal people), dragons and courier owls, bad-tempered willows and wandmakers, flying cars and house-elves, books have found ways to renew themselves and to reach new audiences – through different covers, illustrated editions, pop up volumes, thematic books. And the last few months have been fertile in editions that keep the flame burning. Get to know some of these releases, today remembered for the 8th Night of the Harry Potter Books:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
In November, the second volume of the series came out with design and illustrations by Minalima, the graphic studio created by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima that was responsible for the graphic concept of all the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films. With its cover and spine engraved in gold, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets features family history accompanied by special effects. Profusely illustrated edition, with full-page illustrations but also with many visual notes spread throughout the various chapters in a realistic style and somber tones. But the great asset of this volume are the eight pop-up and interactive elements that allow fun notes. Namely, being able to peek into the various rooms of the Weasley family’s tower house, see the Willow-Burzier in three dimensions pop out of the page, pull a gargoyle that reveals the staircase to Dumbledore’s office, or even pull the beard off Dumbledore’s face. Salazar Slytherin’s stone and bring out the mythological reptile Basilisk.
Harry Potter – A Wizarding Year
This is a book that starts from the Potterian universe, reducing it to evocations guided by the seasons: it presents quotes from the seven books in the series, taking as pretexts the characters’ birthdays or important moments. A handbook for reflection that applies a magnifying glass to anything that might have gone unnoticed in reading. Some quotes work better than others, but there are fun quotes. As this irony uttered by Arthur Weasley, taken from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secretsand lodged here on February 7: “Didn’t I get tired of telling you never to trust anything that could think for itself if you couldn’t see where its brain was?” But a magic year is, above all, an ambitious project by the illustrator Jim Kay who created a beautiful volume with realistic lines, illustrated with various techniques, from charcoal to watercolor, with particular attention to animals and inanimate objects. By the same illustrator, the illustrated editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Where Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; expected to come out in 2022 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
This illustrated album is not new, it was released in 2017, but it returned to bookstores as a potential Christmas champion, having as pretexts the two films dedicated to the character of the magizoologist Newt Scamander (whose third is scheduled to premiere in 2022). Illustrator Olivia Lomenech Gill is dedicated to making an expressive and detailed bestiary of magical creatures such as the harmless Puffskein (a furry, docile egg with a long tongue), the carnivorous Kappa (a Japanese water demon that carries water in a cavity at the top head, the temperamental Black Hebridean or Hungarian Horntail dragons, or visual interpretations of myths such as the Phoenix, the Sphinx or the Unicorn. This A to Z dictionary of fantastic monsters, with a fun and philosophical introduction which questions what a monster is, still has a B side: profits from sales have gone to the charity Comic Relief (which, we read here, have helped to raise around £20 million since 2001).
Harry Potter with Bloomsbury Cloaks
Editorial Presença has been republishing the seven original books in the series with the original covers of the British publisher Bloomsbury since 2020, with several reprints having arrived in the last months of 2021 from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (which is now in its 57th edition), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Mysterious Principle, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This collection thus pays tribute to the British publishing house that believed in JK Rowling’s idea after it had many rejections by other publishers. And the stroke full of drama, strong colors and contrasts of light, by Jonny Duddle, invoke the darkest side of a juvenile literature that never concealed more violent and dark themes in the narrative.