I was a late bloomer to Harry Potter. Harry Potter Book 1 came out before my younger daughter could read (odd there was ever such a time, as now, she reads with the intensity of Evelyn Wood's valedictorian). This meant that Mom and Dad read the book a little each night, but Mom read a lot more than Dad (generally), and surely more of this book. Without reading all the pages, Dad got the basic gist of the story, which seems so quaintly straightforward now... Book 2 was read even more by Mom, and Dad learned less. Book 3 was longer and more involved, and Dad paid almost no attention. In fact, Dad did not know about the time turner until the movie. Then a funny thing happened. Dad stumbled across one of the Potter web sites like The Harry Potter Lexicon. Dad read some of the background books on his weekly visits to Borders. It was not so much Harry that lured me in, it was all the fascinating backstory, the total world, the conspiracies, the intrigue, the double agents. No one told me there was a bit of LeCarre buried in these kidz stories. I never read book 4, but learned all its secrets. Book 5, I finally tackled, in like 3 days of solid reading. And it only got better.
Something, I am not quite sure what, prompted my wife to pick up Harry Potter Book 4, the Goblet of Fire, as a book on tape. We became enchanted and addicted to long car rides. It really is a story suited for oral telling, and Jim Dale who tells the stories, just makes it even better, better. Every character gets voiced distinctly and separately (although Ginny and Luna sound a bit too much a like). On one level, Dale's got a handle on every accent in the United Kingdom (and Eire), going from London to Edinburgh in a blink, upper-crust to cockney. On another level, he's acting. You get not just words but feelings. We zoomed through the long, involved Book 4, then went straight to the even longer Book 5 (less complex than Book 4, but more meaningful). We had a bit of gap between Book 5 and the release of Book 6, but we had the pleasure of Wisconsin to hold us off. We purchased our tapes for Book 6 on the way home. Finished them this week, although to be honest, I snuck away from my family and learned all the good parts ahead. Knowing what is gonna happen, but then hear them on the tape is very helpful. You pick things up you might not ahead of time. And while I was learning my secrets, I had my doubts, but now, I am pretty convinced. Read below if you wanna know my thoughts.
Be warned, the post below contains spoilers to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.