Magical fantasy is a family favorite

July 15, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

HANCOCK - Five youths at home. One reserved copy of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

Who will get to read it first?

Two years ago, when "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" was released, Laurel Kirkpatrick had 10 children at home and one copy but no debate about who got to read it first.

Her son, Tim Witte, got the book for his 13th birthday.

A couple tussles ensued to determine who was going to read it next, she said.

Tim got the 870-page book 20 minutes after midnight Friday and finished it by 4 a.m. Monday.

Then the other children got to read it - sometimes at the same time while sitting and leaning over the person holding the book or they had it read to them.


Fans waited three years for the fifth book in author J.K. Rowling's series about a young wizard and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This time they only had to wait two years, but a frenzy is still expected at midnight when the book is officially released.

Several places in the Tri-State area are having Harry Potter parties.

Tim, now 15, says this time he'll share.

"We just kind of bounce around. We share. Whoever's got time" will get to read it, said Kirkpatrick, who wants to read the book along with her five younger children still at home.

Time was more of an issue for Tim the first time because he took reading the book quickly as a challenge after a guy at church camp claimed he read the fourth book in two days.

Tim read until 2 a.m., then again on the way to church, keeping the book in his Sunday School class and picking up the story again after church.

"I'm really big into fantasy and that type of stuff," Tim said. "I just like the fact that people would do this stuff. Make water come out of the ground and shoot fire from their wand and control fire."

For Kelsey Hovermale, the Harry Potter books are a chance to read something she likes rather than the increasing amount of nonfiction she has to read.

"Sometimes it's just good to get away and read something fantasy," said Kelsey, 14, of Clear Spring.

She also likes the main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, whom she describes as real kids doing extraordinary things.

Her brother, Scott, 11, likes the creatures, especially the dragons.

"I like the fact that it was something we did together. The kids and I read them together," said their mother, Jan Hovermale.

The Piper family of Waynesboro, Pa., also enjoys reading or listening to Potter's tales. They've listened to some of the books on tape as they drove to Maine for vacation, said mom Mica Piper.

Piper likes that "you never know what's going to happen."

Her daughter, Kira, 12, likes the magic and the young main characters.

"If they were old people, I probably wouldn't like it as much," she said.

Area Potter parties

Grab your robes and your latest Nimbus model, but leave your Ton-Tongue Toffees at home.

Several places in the Tri-State area are celebrating the release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" at midnight tonight with parties or special events tonight, tomorrow or next week.

They include:

  • Borders Books Music & Cafe, Centre at Hagerstown. Begins at 9 p.m. tonight. The store will stay open past midnight. Festivities include Harry Potter-related crafts and activities. There will be activities inside and outside the store because the store is expecting so many people to attend, Sales Manager Darla Shoemaker said. For more information call 301-745-5897.

  • Dru's Books 'n Things, 1515 E. Main St., Waynesboro, Pa. Midnight tonight to 2 a.m. Can come in costume. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be a drawing for a grand prize. For more information, call 1-717-762-9707.

  • Book Crossing, 2 E. Potomac St., Brunswick, Md., and other downtown merchants are holding a block party with activities from 8 p.m. to midnight. Books can be picked up after midnight. Activities include making your own wizard's hat, crafting a magic wand, concocting a magic potion, determining which of the "houses" you belong to by donning a "Sorting Hat," eating worms, guessing the flavor of every-flavor beans, magic, face painting and a free showing of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" at 9:30 p.m. in Square Corner Park. For more information, call 1-301-834-5577 or visit

  • Book Cellar Outlet at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown is offering a complimentary light breakfast at 6 a.m. Saturday to celebrate the book's release. For more information, call 301-791-7501.

  • Hancock War Memorial Library, 220 Park Road. Preregister by 7 p.m. today for the party from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 22. The party will feature a library marauder's map, making paper owls, a potions lesson and magic writing paper, Branch Manager Marilyn Pontius said. Call 301-678-5300. The library opens at 11 a.m. today.

  • Go to to find a Harry Potter book release party in your area.
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