Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince directed by David Yates

Bibliographic Information: Yates, D. (director). (2009). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (DVD). Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Pictures.  ASIN: B002PMV9FG.  153 minutes, Movie Rating: PG.

Spoiler alert: This review may include information revealed in the Harry Potter films 1 through 5.

Plot Summary: Harry Potter, age 16, is in his sixth year at Hogwarts and things are changing rapidly.  The wizarding world finally recognizes what Harry has been saying for quite some time, that “he who must not be named,” the evil and very powerful wizard Lord Voldemort, is back and gaining strength.  Harry learns more from Professor Dumbledore about his mission to defeat Voldemort and has tasks to complete to move toward this goal.  New potions professor, Horace Slughorn, who has returned to Hogwarts from his retirement, has taken quite a liking to Harry.  Slughorn is impressed by people with name recognition, and Dumbledore and Harry hope to use Slughorn’s fondness of Harry to find out vital information about Voldemort from Slughorn.  Slughorn was a professor of Tom Riddle, Voldemort’s given name, when Riddle was a student at Hogwarts.  Dumbledore knows that a conversation in Slughorn’s memory holds some keys to important information about Voldemort that Harry needs.  In addition to these most atypical teenage activities, Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione are dealing with typical teenage events, specifically, schoolwork, friendships, and budding romance.

Critical Evaluation: It is a difficult task creating a movie from a much-loved and widely read book, but Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince lives up to its title.  The movie manages to be true to the book as much as possible, while taking advantage of the perfect medium to bring the story to life.  The acting is honest and convincing.  Those who have watched the five previous Harry Potter films will not be disappointed with this, the sixth, installment.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione are growing up, and it shows in the way they look and in the way they behave.  This movie is a bit darker than the previous one, but that is consistent with the book as well.  Highly entertaining, exciting, and adventurous, Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed with this sixth installment of the movie series.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was nominated for dozens of awards and won many of those nominations.  Among an Academy Award nomination, MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice awards, and many others, one award stood out as particularly unique: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince won the Scream Awards’ “Holy Shit! Scene of the Year” for the “Death Eaters Attack London” Scene.

Reader’s/Viewer’s Annotation: Harry Potter and his friends are in their 6th year at Hogwarts School and amidst school work and budding romances, they must work to keep the school and the wizarding community safe from the Dark Lord, Voldemort

Information about the Author/Director:  David Yates is a British film director who directed the final four films in the eight film Harry Potter series.  His previous work included directing an independent film as well as several television programs.

He received wide recognition for his work on all of the Harry Potter films, with the final three films each winning British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, in addition to many others.  Yates is currently working on an as yet untitled film based on the hit British television program Dr. Who.

Genres: Fantasy/Drama/Adventure

Curriculum Ties: comparison of the book and the movie

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 11 – 18

Challenge Issues:  There are those who claim the books and movies promote the occult and witchcraft.  In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.  Also, there are several positive reviews of the film, and it has won several awards and honors.

Why is this film included? The Harry Potter franchise is so huge and so popular, I felt I needed to include at least one film from the series in my blog.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling

Bibliographic Information: Rowling, J.K. (2009). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.  ISBN: 0545139708.  784 pages.

Spoiler alert: This review may include information revealed in the Harry Potter books 1 through 6.

Plot Summary: In this, the last book of the wildly popular Harry Potter Series, Harry, now 17, must seek out the hidden objects that are sustaining life for the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.  Each of the books in the series has gotten more dark, Harry’s journeys more dangerous, and this one is no exception.  Harry’s quest to defeat Voldemort is more harrowing and challenging than ever.  This book contains bravery and triumph, in addition to heartbreak, sorrow and devastating loss.  In the midst of trying to save the wizarding world from unimaginable evil and to keep himself alive, Harry is transitioning from Hogwarts school boy to a full-fledged wizard and a grown man.  This is one coming of age story readers will not want to miss, full of drama, danger, friendship and love. Harry’s last book will not disappoint his fans one bit.   The only problem is, it leaves us wanting just one more…

Critical Evaluation: In this nearly 800 page finale, Rowling, astoundingly, does it again.  The elaborate, magnificent fantasy world she created in the first Harry Potter book comes alive again, with enough of the familiar to satisfy and comfort and enough new elements to thrill and engage.  This is gripping reading at its finest.  The characters are charismatic, unique, and multidimensional.  The story is riveting and unpredictable.  The book mixes the fantastical with, realistic young adult story lines of friendship and love, family and loyalty.  This mix keeps Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows grounded and believable, even as unbelievable as many of the elements are.  This is a great book for boys and girls, reluctant and eager readers alike, and, of course, fans of fantasy.

Of note, is that this book and the entire Harry Potter series are excellent choices for audio books.  The audio books are unabridged, so they take many hours to listen to, but the reader, Jim Dale is himself magical in his ability to act out each role as if a different person were performing.  Highly recommended.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was named the best book of 2007, by Newsweek‘s Malcolm Jones, was on Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2007 list, and was on the 2008 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults list, among many other honors and awards.

Reader’s Annotation: Harry Potter, now 17, must take a dangerous and circuitous journey to seek out the hidden objects that are sustaining life for the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

Information about the Author:  J. K. Rowling started writing stories as a young child.  The idea for Harry Potter came to her while she was on a train.  She did not have a pen, so she spent the four-hour train ride just dreaming up Harry and his magical world.  She says “I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them.” (Rowling, 2011).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the final book in a seven-book series, books one through six are: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 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 Half-Blood Prince,

Genre: Fantasy

Subgenre/Theme: Fantasy: Magic

Curriculum Ties: n/a

Booktalking Ideas:

  • How would it feel to be the only person who can save your world from evil and destruction?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 9 – 18

Challenge Issues: There are those who claim the books promote the occult and witchcraft.  In fact, the Harry Potter series is number one on the ALA’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009.  In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.  Also, there are several positive reviews of the book, and it has won several awards and honors, some are mentioned above.

Why is this book included? The great popularity of the Harry Potter series makes it a natural choice for a young adult collection.  Also, I really enjoyed the audio books of books one through six, so I was thrilled to get to listen to number seven.

References:

Rowling, J.K. (2011). Biography.  Retrieved from http://www.jkrowling.com/en/