Category Archives: J.K. Rowling

New Potter Cover Art Coming

You may have heard this news already but I thought it worth posting and thinking about. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the start of the Harry Potter series, Scholastic, the U.S. publisher, will release all seven books with new cover art. Kazu Kibuishi, a graphic novelist, will be doing the new artwork. This will only be on the trade paperback editions. The artwork of Mary GrandPre, who did the original U.S. covers, will still appear on the hardback and digest paperback editions. Scholastic will also release the boxed set of the “school” books, namely Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

As to why Scholastic is releasing the books with new artwork, Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing says, “In the last year, we’d been thinking of how to make Harry Potter accessible and relevant to a new audience of eight- and nine-year-olds…We started the Harry Potter Book Club as a way to bring kids, some of whom maybe only knew the movies, back to the books, and introduce this wonderful world to them. Mary’s covers are so iconic to all of us, and they will remain on the U.S. hardcover and digest paperback editions. But we were trying to figure out a new look, with new appeal, and with the 15th anniversary coming up, it seemed like a good idea to hook into that.”

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Around the Common Room: November 30, 2012

As this post goes up, it’s still November 29 by my clock, on account of which: Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle! Born exactly twenty years apart–Lewis in 1898 and L’Engle in 1918–the two authors must have shared a trace of magic along with a birthday, for few children’s books have been more loved than The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time. Here’s to Jack and Madeleine, both of whom have been loved by many of us for nearly all our reading lives.

Fairy tale writer and aficionado L.C. Ricardo, has written a beautiful piece on symbolism and meaning in fairy tales, which was just published on the webzine Enchanted Conversation. From L.C.:

That is not to say that fairy tales are mere allegory. Perhaps this one-sided interpretation carries some blame for people’s frustration in“telling the same story over and over again.” If a tower is always a phallic symbol and the maiden either imprisoned or protected from the masculine, we rob the tower of its first childhood impression. That of something tall, stone, unreachable. Something enchanted, according to that which makes up its very definition. And from there—who knows what it could be?

Do you agree with her on the openness of interpretation, or disagree? What do you think of the universality and personal appeal of fairy tales and fantasy literature? Feel free to hold forth in the combox.

Here’s the news from the week:

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Around the Common Room: November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to all American Pub members!

The big news story of the week is Utah paper boy Jaxon Gessel’s getting chased one dark morn

ing by a goat named Voldemort. Now dubbed “The Boy Who Lived” by the goat’s owners, and less flattering names by his school peers, Gessel seems to have taken the event philosophically and with a fair degree of bravery as well, preventing other passers-by from likewise getting treed. After all, whatever Aberforth might say, a male goat can be an odd and rather frightening creature, especially in the dark.

In more serious discussion, Fantasy Faction’s Ryan Howse suggests a moratorium on Campbell’s monomyth. He criticizes it on several principles, from its influence on definitions to its overall masculinity. “Campbell’s monomyth is important to know,” he says, “but as writers we need to be willing to push against its boundaries and break it. We need to criticize it with a thousand cuts and let it lie fallow in the earth.” Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss.

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Around the Common Room: November 9, 2012

The presidential election may be over, but according to io9, there’s one campaign of ultimate importance still around: Brad Bird for dire

ctor of the next Star Wars film. The campaign video is certainly far more enjoyable than campaign videos are wont to be.

In wonky news of the week, archaeologists have been banned from referring to ancient humanoids as hobbits. Also, Superman’s home planet has been “found”–the news story contains astronomy coordinates. Gilderoy Lockhart–or actor Kenneth Branagh, anyway–was just knighted by Queen Elizabeth, Angry Birds and Star Wars have combined for a game reputed to be ‘ridiculously fun’, and Darth Vader has been telling other Disney characters that he is their father. All right, that last one’s a comic, but it’s adorable.

In various news and other literary items:

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Rowling on the Adult Content in ‘The Casual Vacancy’

According to buy viagra online pharmacy(direct)%7Cutmccn=(direct)%7Cutmcmd=(none)&″>an article by Christine Kearney, Rowling says the difference between her adult book and the other adult book wildly popular at present–E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey–is that “people have sex in this book but no one really enjoys it”.

Rowling also comments on the age at which young people should be allowed to read The Casual Vacancy, the experience of discovering a child in an audience she was reading to, and the best ways for parents to manage their children’s reading of more troubling works.

Head over and check it out! Feel free to comment on her thoughts below.

HogPro Discussion on The Casual Vacancy

I haven’t been able to make it past page 70, not because I don’t want to, but because of my work schedule. But John Granger is through the book and already has 12 discussion posts up and running at Hogwarts Professor! If you’ve read The Casual Vacancy and can’t wait around for my work schedule to let me start the discussion here, head on over to our sister site! The 12 posts:

1. The Harry Potter Echoes

2. MuggleMarch or A Modern Moonacre Manor

3. Potter to Potty-Mouth: The Profanity by the Numbers

4. Literary Narcissism or The Art of the Psychic Realm

5. Barry Fairbrother and the Political Parable

6. Literary Alchemy: The Conjunction of Sex and Death

7. The Seven Part Ring Composition

8. Andrew and Gaia: Fallen Man and the Natural World?

9. Andrew and Stuart: Doppelganger, Ouroboros, or Diptych?

10. The JayZ song  ‘Umbrella’

11. Religion: Christian Hypocrites and Sympathetic Sikhs

12. Authenticity and Hypocrisy:’Penetration,’ Suffering, and the Birth of Consciousness

Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” Released Today

It’s official: Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy can be picked up from your local bookstore or downloaded onto your ereader! If you beat Travis to finishing the book, feel free to express your thoughts below.

To tide you over till our Chief Warlock of the Blogengamot can post, here are a few more reviews: Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times claims that “There is no magic in this book–in terms of wizarding or in terms of narrative sorcery” (thanks to commenter Charlie for the news), but Theo Tait over at The Guardian points out that the book “…is no masterpiece, but it’s not bad at all: intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny.”

Alison Pearson at The Telegraph is concerned about young readers:

When an interviewer from The New Yorker put it to Rowling that there might be strong objections to the idea of young Harry Potter readers being drawn into such material she replied coolly: “There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher… I’m a writer and I will write what I want to write.”

If you have sold 450 million books, mainly to children, and you have achieved a net worth of £560 million, often from the pocket and birthday money of children, then you may not consider yourself to be their babysitter, or their teacher, but you were certainly their bedtime reading, and they will be helplessly drawn back to your voice. For my kids, and for a billion others, Rowling is a household goddess, the teller of a tale that not only spanned but defined their childhoods.

Meanwhile, Rob Brunner at Entertainment Weekly, though admitting the novel falls apart at the end, claims that:

Rowling does a nice job laying out her 20-plus characters’ endless pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a surprisingly sharp comic blade.

In related news, if you can come up with the millions (and they’d better not be leprechaun gold), you can buy Rowling’s old home in Edinburgh. I’m guessing that most of us don’t have access to that many Galleons, but we can all look at the beautiful pictures of the place. It’s quite lovely. Thanks to R. Ross for the link.

Rowling News and Interviews

Time to gather some of the latest leading pieces about Rowling, most of them surrounding the release of her new novel, The Casual Vacancy. If I missed anything, do link it in the comments!

Alongside Ian Parker’s NYT piece, linked here a couple of days ago, Rowling gave out two other major interviews with advance review copies. The first was with Decca Aitkenhead from The Guardian; Ms. Aitkenhead is clearly more of a fan than Mr. Parker, and wrote an enthusiastic piece. The other was with Carol Memmott of USA Today, and it’s also an enjoyable read; more restrained reporting than the other two, less editorial commentary.

Other reviews are starting to surface. The Associated Press has one which has landed on several news sites. Christopher Brookmyre of The Telegraph suggests British Conservative party leader David Cameron ought to avoid the book “as he is unlikely to enjoy seeing his notion of the “Big Society” being so savagely eviscerated.” Sherryl Connelly at the New York Daily News said it “…isn’t dreadful. It’s just dull” and complained of apparently intense amounts of sex and profanity.

As Rowling’s current news doesn’t get mention without reference to the Potter legacy, MSNBC has picked up on a comment suggesting Rowling may write more books set in the Wizarding World. And Blastr’s Nathalie Caron notes Rowling’s suggestion that she’d like to do a ‘director’s cut’ edit on a couple of the books.

Happy reading!