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Charming isn't it that Rowling's creations have so many excited about reading?

July 22, 2007|By BILL KOHLER

The real magic isn't in Harry Potter's wand.

It's in J.K. Rowling's fingertips.

As the final book in the unparalleled Harry Potter series made its debut this weekend on bookstore shelves and from online retailers, the fate of Harry Potter and his friends was known and its author's legacy cemented.

Never before has such a swarm of excitement surrounded a book - much less a "children's" book.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final book in the boy wizard series, came out Saturday at midnight, and was greeted with lines, smiles and anticipation with muggles of all shapes and sizes waiting to get their mitts on a copy - no matter the cost.

People have debated for months - even years - on how Rowling would end the series. A main character would die, she teased. Hundreds of Internet sites allegedly spoiled the secret before this weekend's release. Real fans vowed not to look until they read the book.

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As a reader of the first four books (I don't want to get too far ahead of the films, after all. I do like some visual stimulation.), I know why people can't get enough of the books. They are filled with rich character development, vivid images of make-believe places, plenty of good vs. evil, cauldrons full of creatures and potions, and trainloads of "ordinary" wizards and witches experiencing growing pains on a slightly higher plain than the rest of us.

But the real magic potion doesn't come of the sharp mind of Hermione Granger or the dastardly conscious of Draco Malfoy.

The magic comes in the books' impact on us muggle-borns.

Millions of people are reading. Millions of young people are reading.

How much more magical can that be?

Hopefully, millions of children are putting down their joysticks and turning off their computers to read the final Harry Potter book. Maybe, just maybe, their parents are making them turn off their computers, their Wiis and their Game Boys.

Maybe more kids will get into the earlier books and spend the rest of their summer reading instead of watching "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" or "Kimpossible."

Even older people like me are reading.

When an earlier book came out, some argued that the books were the work of the devil and that magic had no place in children's books and schools, and said that the books should be banned from libraries and off-limits to children.

Whatever your thoughts on that issue, one theme remained: We were arguing about books. We were talking about reading - one of the most important things we can emphasize for our children, ourselves and our general well-being. Plus, more kids were reading.

In college, I remember reading an article with an author who was asked why his first book didn't sell well and if he considered it a failed effort. He shrugged it off, saying if one person read his book and was inspired to read more, then it was a success.

Cool way to look at things.

Rowling has done a good thing with these books. She created a wonderful world of characters, plots, arcs, battles, villains, heroes and dragons.

And she likely has inspired millions to want to read more - especially children.

Now that's magic.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 1-800-626-6397, ext. 2023, or by e-mail at billk@herald-mail.com

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