I decided to read “Kids’ Letters to Harry Potter” because we’ve being working our way through the Harry Potter series as a read-aloud here, and I though it would be interesting (and adorable) to read what children would say to Harry if they had the chance. I was partially right.
As promised, the book includes lots of letters written by children. Some are funny, some are sweet, some are quite original (as the kids come up with their own fantastical background stories), and some read like a school assignment (ie start with “Dear Harry”, then make your first sentence a greeting, like “Hi, Harry”, then introduce yourself, then ask a couple of questions). Regardless, reading the honest words of children was entertaining and enjoyable.
The book fails a bit when it moves on to the promised “interviews with some of the children”. The “interviews” appear to be more of a five-question form that was filled out by each child:
- What do you like best about Harry Potter?
- Do you have any other favorite characters?
- Why do you think the series is so popular with kids?
- If you could have any of Harry’s powers, spells, or magical objects, which would it be and why?
- What would you suggest J.K. Rowling include in an upcoming book? Should Harry and Hermione become romantically involved? Should Harry become an exchange student at another school?
While the first couple of interviews were worth reading, they quickly became repetitious and dull. The interview portion of the book would have been so much better if someone had taken the time to actually read each letter, and ask the child relevant questions. If the writer presented herself as a witch attending a school like Hogwarts in her own country, ask her more about her life of magic. If the child expressed special interest in Sirius and Buckbeak (or other secondary characters), ask why he was so interested in them, and what he thought they were doing now. Children have such open and unique minds; I would have loved it if someone affiliated with the book had taken the time to explore more of what some of the letter-writers had to say.
On a nitpicking note, one letter was included twice, and attributed to different writers. On page 83-84, the letter that starts with “How did you first feel when you became a wizard?” was signed by “Your Unknown Friend, Lindsay, Age 12”. On pages 94-95, the exact same letter was written by “Your Unknown Friend, Jasmel (Jason and Melissa).
On a happier note, the fantasy world illustrations by Syrena Done were quite lovely, even though they had nothing to do with either the Harry Potter series or the letters in the book.
Overall, 2.5 out of 5 American Cheesy Singles (mostly for laziness in not conducting proper interviews, NOT because of the children’s writing).