Status update: At the beginning of Chapter 9 as of last night, about halfway through the book. This first one, at least, I should finish well within the week deadline.
And I think, as of now, I just have a couple of random thoughts, though I’ve started some doodles. Hopefully those will be inked and decent looking by Monday!
First, I know it’s not exactly a novel observation that this was a series that very much grew up as its audience did, but it’s honestly kind of amazing to look back and see how much it did grow. Reading it again after years my thought is that Philosopher’s Stone is bordering on the sort of children’s book that adults can’t read. It has an incredibly intriguing world, but very simple sentence structure, very simple plot, and very simple characters.
But at the same time you can see where Rowling is already leaving it room to become more complex. There are plenty of instances already where this first story sort of glosses over the more horrific elements of the Wizarding World, but those elements are still there, waiting to be used. Ditto the characters: even in the first brushes with them you can tell there’s a lot about them we’re not being told.
By a similar token, it’s kind of funny to see just how cartoonish everyone is, not only in their personalities but in their physical descriptions. I’m usually pretty good about remembering details like hair and eye color, but even with that there are very few books where I can clearly picture a character’s face, body language, dress style, etc.
And I’m doing it with almost every character here, because the way Rowling talks about them is so expressive. No wonder we got such good covers across the board for these; they have to be an illustrator’s dream come true.
Harry himself is very interesting here, too. We’re used to thinking of him as brave and brash, as the hero, and he does grow into that. But here he’s still young and uncertain, and the first thing about him that sticks out to me isn’t bravery, but kindness. Treat him even remotely decently and he’ll do everything in his power to reassure you and cheer you up. I appreciate that in a hero, especially since it’s done in such small ways. Most authors, when they want to show that, take it to big, dramatic anti-bullying speeches, and Harry’s just kind of there, doing it as a natural part of his personality.
On a final, silly note, “MOTORCYCLES DON’T FLY!” was a sort of pre-internet meme in Middle School for me and my friends. I was always sort of disappointed when it didn’t take off as one of the catchphrases of the series, a la “Yer a wizard, Harry.”
Maybe its time has come. I think that needs to be one of Monday’s doodles, yes.