Tag Archives: Harry Potter

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Harry Potter Alliance brings together fans to affect social change

The Harry Potter Alliance is a nonprofit coalition whose work so far has included creating a YouTube video titled ‘The Hunger Games Are Real’ which aims to raise awareness of poverty and hunger in the US.

Thought “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” were just fun and games?

Think again.

Today the series’ famously cult-like fans are using these popular fiction books as a means to affect social change.

The Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of fans who use “the power of story to inspire and affect social change,” is launching a campaign inspired by Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy to fight social injustice in the US.

The nonprofit Alliance has created a “The Hunger Games are Real” YouTube video and a social media campaign called “The Odds Are in Our Favor” which shares statistics about poverty, hunger, and income inequality in the US with fans.

In an LA Times op-ed, Harry Potter Alliance executive director Andrew Slack writes, “If the books are supposed to function as a cautionary tale against the real class divide in the U.S., we need not look far for evidence. The future of Panem is upon us: More than 20 million Americans can’t find full-time jobs, 22% of children live in poverty and middle-class wages have been largely stagnant since 1974. Meanwhile, corporate profits are at an all-time high.

“If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the same can be said of systemic economic inequality. The pull of the American dream is still so strong that many believe the only reasonable explanation for poverty is that it’s poor people’s fault.”

The “Hunger Games are Real” campaign is using excitement behind “The Hunger Games,” a story about inequality, to attract interest. “The Hunger Games” is a story about economic inequality, Slack argues, in which the fictitious country of Panem is actually the United States some decades in the future, where a fraction of people control almost all of the wealth and starvation is a daily experience.

According to the UK’s Guardian, actor Donald Sutherland, who plays President Coriolanus Snow, the archvillain of the Hunger Games series in the latest film, said in a Guardian interview that “I hope that they [young people] will take action because it’s getting drastic in this country.”

The campaign hopes to spread its message through its YouTube video, social media, and a three-fingered salute used in the “Hunger Games” as a symbol of solidarity against corruption and inequality.

In the Times op-ed, Slack writes, “Perhaps Lionsgate will embrace the simple but radical message of its blockbuster films: No one should have to go hungry in a nation of plenty. After all, fantasy is not an escape from our world but an invitation to go deeper into it. And we will keep going deeper until the odds are in everyone’s favor.”

Using popular fiction to inspire social change – what do you think of this trend?

Originally posted at Christian Science Monitor 


Harry Potter fans flock to real life grave of Lord Voldemort

HARRY Potter fans are flocking to an Edinburgh grave – because they believe it is the last resting place of evil wizard Lord Voldermort.


Harry Potter fans have been visiting a grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard and leaving dozens of tributes. The 19th-century grave belongs to Thomas Riddell, who died in 1806 aged 72.

Fans believe it is the inspiration behind the name of Voldemort from the JK Rowling books, whose real name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. The author was said to have taken much inspiration for names in the novel from graves and texts around the city of Edinburgh.

Riddell died in 1806 aged 72, but his name is believed to have inspired Harry Potter author J K Rowling, who picked up identities for a string of characters from Edinburgh’s streets, landmarks and graveyards. Voldemort – played by Ralph Fiennes in the Harry Potter series – was born Tom Marvolo Riddle.


Thomas Riddle’s grave in Edinburgh has become a shrine for Harry Potter fans

The grave bearing his name is now a magnet for follwers of the Potter books and films, with dozens leaving notes next to the headstone. But Edinburgh University students, Richard Duffy and Will Naameh, who run The Potter Trail through city spots connected to the texts, say people may be getting in a “muggle” between fact and fiction.

Will, 21, said: “This recent trend to leave notes and such has been building up over the past month.

The fact and the fiction have become a little blurred – on the tour we do state that ‘This is Voldemort’s grave’ but most people understand he is just an inspiration.”


Thomas Riddle’s grave states that he was from Befsborough in Berwick and died in Edinburgh on 24 November 1806, aged 72. It also commemorates his son, also Thomas, who was Captain of the 14th Regiment and died at Trinidad in the West Indies on 12 September 1802, aged just 26; and his daughters Christian and Maira Jane who died aged 31 and 47.

jk-rowling-220x256J K Rowling has previously said that the tombstone of Thomas Riddell Esquire in the famous Kirkyard may have subconsciously been the inspiration for Voldemort’s true name.

The nearby gravestone of poet William ‘Topaz’ McGonagall is also said to have offered inspiration for the name of Professor McGonagall, the head of Gryffindor house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry.

One note on the grave says: “RIP Tom, thank you for making us all believe in magic. You are an inspiration.”

But another sneers: “Dear idiots, you know there’s a difference between fiction and reality, right?”

harry potter royal family

Harry Potter and the Royal Family

Britain’s young royals had a magical day out Friday with a visit to the studio where the “Harry Potter” movies were filmed.

Wizard duel: The Duke and Duchess pretend to battle during their tour of the Harry Potter sets in Hertfordshire

Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry toured Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden near London, home to “The Making of Harry Potter” studio tour.

The royals, accompanied by 500 children and adults from charities they support, had a wand lesson, visited the Great Hall of Hogwarts School and saw props, costumes and models from the Potter series in the company of the boy wizard’s creator, author J.K. Rowling.

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Don’t turn me into a frog! The princes joke about with their wands on Diagon Alley

William also seemed taken with props from “The Dark Knight” Batman trilogy. “I’m a very happy man,” he joked after exploring the Batmobile and sitting astride the Batpod motorcycle.

Kate, who is six months pregnant and wore a polka-dot dress, smiled indulgently at her husband.

In a speech to Warner Bros. executives, 30-year-old William said he was “over the moon just to have seen the real Batmobile and Batpod.”

“On the other hand Harry’s just excited to see a real life talking owl in the Harry Potter studios,” William said of his 28-year-old brother. “I haven’t told him yet that Harry Potter is fictional, so please keep the secret for a little longer.?

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Woman behind the magic: Kate meets Harry Potter author JK Rowling

Friday is the official opening of Warner Bros.’ Leavesden Studios, a former World War II airdrome 20 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of London

Warner Bros. has spent 100 million pounds ($155 million) redeveloping the facility, where the eight Potter films were shot, into Europe’s largest filmmaking complex.

It was recently used for the upcoming Tom Cruise sci-fi picture “All You Need is Kill.”


Harry Potter Superfan Builds GIGANTIC Lego Hogwarts


You may be able to recite the Sorting Hat’s song and rattle off different spells, but don’t get into a “Who’s the Bigger Harry Potter Fan?” contest with Alice Finch. The certifiable Potterhead spent 12 months building an incredible 400,000-piece, 170-square-foot Lego replica of Hogwarts Castle that puts your fan fiction to shame.

In addition to its massive size, the most impressive thing about the Lego castle is its depth of detail. Clearly Finch is a smart woman (probably a Ravenclaw) who thought to include a Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom with a closet for a boggart (à la Prisoner of Azkaban), the Chamber of Secrets, and even the Grey Lady. She also helpfully uploaded a 79-photo Flickr album of the whole castle so fellow superfans can properly obsess.

In an interview with Lego blog The Brothers Brick, Finch explained she got inspired by Lego building with her young sons, and that they, along with her husband, helped her finish this massive project. She also discussed how much time went into getting Hogwarts ready for (toy) students. The castle was finally finished in October for the annual Lego festival Brick-Con, where Finch went on to win “People’s Choice” and “Best in Show” last year — not to mention probably about a million honorary house points.


JK Rowling says more Harry Potter possible

With today’s publication of J.K. Rowling’s first foray into grown-up fiction, The Casual Vacancy, you’d think the Harry Potter author would be having a muggle-centric news day. But, even as The Casual Vacancy bows, Rowling has brought the magical world that made her famous back into the equation. Yesterday, in a BBC interview, Rowling opened the door to the possibility of more fodder for Potter fans.

In the interview, Rowling discussed the freedom that comes from having Potter under her belt: now she only has to write what she wants to write, and on her own timeline. The author admitted that there were a couple Harry Potter books—”one towards the beginning and one towards the end,” but no specificity as to which—that she knew needed another year.

“I read them and I think, ‘Oh God,’” she said. “Maybe I’ll go back and do a director’s cut.” Rowling also left open the possibility of new non-Harry stories from the Potter-verse.

Potter readers: which books and plot lines would you hope get the expanded director’s-cut treatment


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The Causal Vacancy tops Amazon bestsellers chart

As expected, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling’s newest novel The Casual Vacancyreleased earlier today, has shot straight to the top of the best-seller lists for Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. The Casual Vacancy is a departure from Rowling’s stretch of writing popular children’s literature and follows the town of Pagford as it deals with the sudden death of a town council member. The book’s description follows:

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

The Casual Vacancy is available in physical form at your favourite book store, and digitally at Amazon’s Kindle Store and on Google Play.

salman rushdie

How Salman Rushdie helped the world discover Harry Potter

Life frequently works out stranger than fantasy. And so it proved in the case of Salman Rushdie and his friend and editor Liz Calder. An act of greed on Rushdie’s part, which he regretted for years, eventually worked out for the best and helped the world of muggles discover a young wizard by the name of Harry Potter, the hero of the bestselling book series and a hugely successful movie series.

All that, though, was far in the unforeseeable future in 1986, by which time Calder had been Rushdie’s close friend for 15 years. In fact, for almost three -and-a-half years, she had stayed as the lodger in a small house in which Rushdie lived with his first wife, Clarissa. Calder would sleep at night in the room in which Rushdie wrote his first novel, Grimus, by day.

Unknown to him, she would sneak looks at the manuscript. She was promoted from the publicity department at the publishers Victor Gollancz and became an editor just as he finished ‘Grimus’. When it was done, she published it and so his first novel as an author was also her first novel as a publisher.

Then in 1986, Calder left Jonathan Cape, the publishing house where she was working, and became one of the founders of a new publishing house, Bloomsbury, just as Rushdie was giving the finishing touches to his new novel, The Satanic Verses.

As Rushdie describes it in his recently-released memoir, ‘Joseph Anton’ (in which he writes about himself in the third person), “Because of their friendship, there was an assumption that he would follow her. His British agent was the highly respected Deborah Rogers, also a close friend of Calder’s. Deborah quickly agreed with Liz that ‘the new Rushdie’ would go to Bloomsbury for a modest fee, as the new publishing house couldn’t afford high advances. Andrew Wylie (his agent in the US) told him that if he accepted a low figure in the UK, it would ruin the book’s prospects in the US. After much hesitation, he agreed…The sweetheart deal was cancelled, Liz and Deborah were both deeply hurt… His love of his chosen friends had sustained and nourished him, and the wounds his actions had inflicted, even though they were justifiable in business terms, felt humanly wrong.”

Rushdie goes on to add, “After Zafar (his first son) was born, they had all holidayed together in France. That was the connection he had broken for money. What did that say about him?…But when the storm broke over his head, both Deborah and Liz at once set aside their grievances and behaved towards him with spectacular loyalty and generosity. It was the love and loyalty of his friends that enabled him to survive those years, and yes, their forgiveness too.”

Once he went underground following the issuing of a fatwa against him, Rushdie was, for a while, forced to move from one location to another, never staying at one place for more than a few days at a time. During this period, he often stayed at Calder’s home while she was away on work or vacation (he met the woman who would become his third wife, Elizabeth West, a colleague of Calder’s, when she came in to feed the pet parrot, Juju).

But while Rushdie remained contrite, Calder came to believe that it was probably just as well that he had not given her the rights to the book. In his words, “Liz came to feel that she had dodged a bullet. If she had published the ‘Satanic Verses’, the ensuing crisis, with its bomb threats, death threats, security expenses, building evacuations and fear would very probably have sunk her new publishing venture right away.” Instead, Bloomsbury flourished and eventually went on to discover an obscure, unpublished author who had been previously rejected by 12 publishing houses. The author’s name was Joanne Rowling. The rest is publishing history

First official Harry Potter book club formed

Scholastic launches Harry Potter Book Club: J.K. Rowling to appear in live webcast

Harry Potter book club

On Oct. 11, 2012, J.K. Rowling will make a virtual tour of US classrooms via live webcast, the first opportunity for the author to answer readers’ questions live since the last “Harry Potter” book hit shelves in 2007.

Though J.K. Rowling may be moving on to adult fiction with this fall’s highly anticipated “The Casual Vacancy,” she has not quite left Hogwarts behind. Scholastic has announced Rowling will once again be returning to the young wizard who made her world famous in the form of the Harry Potter Book Club. Even better, Rowling will appear on Oct, 11 in a live global webcast from the her home in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling will answer pre-submitted questions and discuss all things Potter, including the recently launched website, Pottermore.

The webcast is organized in conjunction with the first official Harry Potter Reading Club, an online portal geared toward educators, librarians, and parents, to encourage budding Potterphiles to read and to explore the world of Harry Potter. The site, which was launched with much less fanfare than Pottermore, appears to be geared toward younger readers.

Scholastic called it a destination for fans of Potter and a tool for parents and teachers to set up book clubs of their own.

“Scholastic has been in conversation with educators, librarians and other book lovers about ideas for bringing the Harry Potter books to new readers in exciting and different ways,” Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade, said in a statement announcing the club.

“The Harry Potter Reading Club is a direct response to that feedback and provides an entry point through which the thrill of these books can be shared with new generations of Harry Potter fans both within and beyond the classroom.”

The Harry Potter Reading Club allows parents, educators and readers to organize Potter clubs of their own. The site features reading and discussion guides, pronunciation aides and a plethora of interactive activities that relate to each of the seven books in the series. These include: a guide to starting your own Harry Potter book club, reading and discussion guides, pronunciation aides, a glossary of Hogwarts-related terms, and a cauldron’s worth of interactive activities relating to each of the Harry Potter books. Activities available for this month include a creative writing exercise in which writers must imagine they received a letter from Hogwarts, a “create your own wand” download, and a search for missing Potter objects. Scholastic has said it will add new activities each month. Bookmarks, stickers, and nametags are also available for download on the site.

The first 10,000 individuals to register for the club will also receive a book club welcome kit that will include bookmarks, stickers and nametags, although these items can be also be downloaded.

Consider the Harry Potter Reading Club and Rowling’s upcoming webcast your key to surviving the last weeks of summer with young readers – and a reason to look forward to another school year.

Pre-order Harry Potter for Kinect

Harry Potter for Kinect – video game for Xbox 360 – will release on September 1 2012 and is available for pre-orders online.

Harry Potter for Kinect

As the name states, Harry Potter for Kinect will rely on the Xbox 360′s motion-sensing camera peripheral, letting players cast spells using gestures and magic words. Would-be wizards will also be able to use the camera to scan in their faces for use on created characters.

The game will follow the story of the films, letting players re-create key scenes in control of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, or their created characters. Before the final showdown with Voldemort, players can choose a house to join at Hogwarts, partake in quidditch matches, and take a break with a few minigames. Harry Potter for Kinect will also feature competitive and cooperative multiplayer action.

Product Features

  • For the first time, create a witch or wizard character in your likeness that will become part of the gameplay through Kinect?s scanning technology.
  • Experience unforgettable moments from all eight films – from having your wand choose you at Ollivanders and being Sorted as a first-year student at Hogwarts, to battling You-Know-Who in a climactic wizard battle
  • Cast spells at your opponents by performing the proper casting maneuvers and calling out spell names utilizing Kinect?s controller-free and voice recognition capabilities.
  • Hone your casting, brewing and duelling skills (among others) in class to unlock even more lessons and challenges
  • Challenge a friend in competitive mini-games, or join forces against a mutual opponent in co-op games.

Although Electronic Arts held the primary license to make games based on the Harry Potter movies, WBIE previously produced a pair of Lego Harry Potter games recapping the complete story.

Pre-order Harry Potter for Kinect in USA | Pre-order Harry Potter for Kinect in UK