Sitting around a patio table littered with empty cups of coffee and chocolate chip frappuccinos, three kids and their moms laugh and holler as they reminisce about their favorite scenes, favorite characters and the fate of popular culture’s favorite wizard.
Harry Potter fans in Tucson eagerly await the arrival of the final book in J.K. Rowling’s series, with the Saturday release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Among them is Ben Nead, 11.
“I like fantasy books,” Ben said. “Fantasy’s definitely my favorite book genre. It’s just the way (Rowling) writes that is so amazing. There’s so much detail and description.”
Ben’s mom, Rebecca McKee, asked her son whether Harry Potter influenced his love of fantasy.
“I like Harry Potter books because it’s a fantasy, and I like fantasy because of Harry Potter,” he said.
Eleven-year-old Emily Rumney, a Hermione look-alike, according to Rebecca, Ben and her mom Katie Rumney, is drawn to the series by the magic.
“I like the magic and also because it’s fantasy and I love fantasy, and the books are descriptive and exciting,” Emily said.
Great characters and surprises are what pulled in Meghan Elliott, 11.
“I like the characters because they really stuck in my head, and I like how J.K. Rowling develops the story, and how there isn’t an obvious ending,” said Meghan, who wants to dye her hair hot pink like Nymphadora Tonks, a character that first appeared in “Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix.”
Since the 1998 release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Rowling has captivated readers with Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts, with his battles against You-Know-Who and with his growing adolescent angst.
The Tucson kids began reading Harry Potter with their parents around the age of 5 or 6. The parents were just as drawn to the wizarding world as their kids.
“It takes you to another world,” Rebecca said.
They’re eager for the release of book No. 7 and to discover who lives and who dies. Ben and Emily predict the death of Ginny Weasley, and Meghan predicts that Ron will die in an effort to save Hermione. Nobody thinks Harry will die in the end.
Lisa Bunker, Pima County Public Library’s youth services librarian, said the series got children excited about reading, starting with “Sorcerer’s Stone.”
“My favorite (book) will probably always be the first one because I can’t separate it from being a librarian in an elementary school and having my desk being three deep with kids wanting to talk about the book,” Bunker said.
Bunker has Harry Potter wallpaper on her computer monitor and a bumper sticker on a nearby bookshelf reads “Expecto Patronum.”
“It made reading cool again. It made reading something that had peer pressure,” Bunker said.
The series changed the way people think of reading, she said. What used to be a solitary hobby has become more of a community activity, especially online, Bunker said.
“I think for the kids that have grown up post 9/11, the idea of having power and being able to make the world better and safer is tremendously appealing to the kids,” Bunker said.
• For links to Tucson librarian Lisa Bunker’s archive of J.K. Rowling interviews and quotes, and her Harry Potter blog, go to tucson citizen.com and select this story.
After you’ve read “Deathly Hallows”
The end is here, and we want to know what you think.
What surprised you most about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”? Did you like the ending? How would you have ended the series? What will you read now that the series is over?
E-mail your opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, age and telephone number. Or fax it to 573-4569. Or mail it to:
Tucson Citizen Family Plus
P.O. Box 26767
Tucson, AZ 85726