In the era of Pikachu and Nintendo, the idea that a series of books should captivate the world's children (not to mention their parents) makes the HARRY POTTER phenomenon doubly . remarkable. We asked nine-

year-olds, therapists and witches what it was all about. Words: Allan Radcliffe

: written about Harry every child in our world will

know his name.‘ Writing these words in an Edinburgh

cafe five years ago. aspiring author JK Rowling could hardly have realised how prophetic they would prove. Not t i even a fortune-teller could have predicted the extraordinary ‘_ . u’ success of Rowling‘s teenage sorcerer in the Muggle ' "' (human) as well as the wizard world. But then. as Professor McGonagall (Transfiguration mistress at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) would say. fortune-telling is not an exact science.

The story of how Harry Potter came into being has its own rags-to-riches fairy-tale quality. Divorced. unemployed and living in a rickety Edinburgh flat. Joanne Rowling sought refuge and warmth in cafes. where she wrote during her baby daughter‘s naps. A grant from the ' Scottish Arts Council enabled her to finish what was to ' become Harry Potter and the Philosopher '3‘ Stone. The book and its two sequels to date. The Chamber ofSeerets and The Prisoner (gf'xlzkabmz have been translated into a dozen languages and garnered rave reviews and number one best-seller spots on both sides of the Atlantic as well as a cauldron—load of prizes and legions of fanatical followers.

011 the surface. it's not difficult to discern why young readers have succumbed so overwhelmingly to the charms of the series. Rowling’s writing is lively. her work combining all the ingredients of classic children's fiction. busily plotted and richly imaginative yet proceeding with the urgency of a

thriller. The books overflow with whimsical. surreal humour. edged with a l)ahl—esque feel for nastiness and the macabre.

Harry is an appealing hero. mischievous and courageous while the supporting cast is vividly rendered. There's the Dursleys. Harry's tetestable adopted Muggle family. Hagrid.

gentle giant and keeper of keys and Albus

J.K. Rowling: ’I wrote it entirely for myself‘