Friday 31 July 2015

Happy Birthday JKR (and Harry!): 50 Magical Moments

To celebrate the 50th birthday of JK Rowling, and the 35th birthday of Harry Potter, we wanted to share our favourite moments from the series! Thanks to everyone who contributed. (Moments are, hopefully, in chronological order, unless I've got confused about any of them...)
Warning: MASSIVE spoilers ahead, fairly obviously!

Name: Lucy (Queen of Contemporary, Youtube, @LucyTheReader)
Moment: The opening scene
Why: They evoke a sense of nostalgia in me as I remember the moment I started the series and my life changed in a little way forever. You're never alone if you've read Harry Potter!

Name: Lucy (@lucyduk)
Moment: The beginning of the Philosopher's Stone
Why: I remember feeling excited and intrigued when I first read the book and I never tire of rereading the first chapter because I know it's going to lead to so many magical moments!

Name: Alice Sutherland-Hawes (@alibelle)
Moment: “He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter - the boy who lived!’”
Why: If I was to thank JK Rowling for writing anything, it would be for writing the first chapter of the first Harry Potter book, and the final line of that chapter. It’s this sentence which kicks of what is arguably one of the best and most successful children’s series, and it’s this sentence which, during my annual reread, is the one which welcomes me back to Harry and his world.

Name: Jackie Marchant (@JMarchantAuthor)
Moment:  Harry receiving a letter addressed to ‘Mr H. Potter, The Cupboard Under the Stairs.’
Why:  At last Harry knows that he is not alone – there is someone out there who cares about him.  And the letters keep coming, addressed to wherever the Dursleys are trying to hide him – until Hagrid himself turns up and Harry finally has a friend and ally.

Name: Andrew (The Pewter Wolf and @PewterWolf13)
Moment: When Harry first meets Hagrid in Keeper of the Keys
Why? I remember reading this moment where Hagrid comes to the little hut. I was awestruck by this man who had a jacket with so many pockets who told Harry the truth about magic. He was my favourite character for a long time when I obsessed with this book. Plus, the man who saved Harry from the dangers of the world of magic was the man who brought Harry back to magic - that's special.
And he stood up to Vernon Dursley. I loved him in that moment..

Name: Matt Imrie (Teen Librarian)
Moment: The scene on Platform  9&3/4 with Molly Weasley saying goodbye to her children and Fred and George are winding her up about blowing up toilets
Why?:  The love, warmth and exasperation in that scene is a perfect counterpoint to Harry’s experiences with the Dursleys in the previous chapters and made me fall in love with the story.

Name: Abi Elphinstone (@moontrug)
Moment: When Harry sees Hogwarts for the very first time
Why: Harry's been sent hundreds of letters inviting him to a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he's charged through a station wall at Kings Cross to find Platform Nine & Three-Quarters, he's collected his wand from Ollivanders and an owl from Eeylops Owl Emporium and the expectations for what secrets and novelties Hogwarts might hold are sky high. I remember the first time I read about Harry sitting in that little boat on the black lake which 'was as smooth as glass', about him looking up and seeing the castle with its turrets and towers and its 'windows sparkling in the starry sky' for the first time. I read this scene in the library at school but the images were so vivid, the weight of expectation - for magic and adventure - so tangible, I felt like I was right there with Harry and Hagrid, ready to embark upon my first term at Hogwarts. And when I stepped inside the castle and found moving staircases, talking paintings and the Sorting Hat, I knew this was to be the start of a very special series of adventures.

Name: Daniel (The Blogger's Bookshop)
Moment: When Harry and the other first years are travelling across the black lake on the enchanted boats and they get a glimpse of Hogwarts castle for the first time.
Why: To me this is when the real story begins, you get a full glimpse into the world that Harry belongs to and just how impressive it is. I remember reading this scene and then seeing it portrayed in the movie and my heart just stopping and I realised just how breathtaking a moment it is. I also got this feeling when I visited Hogwarts at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, it’s just magical!

Name: Katherine Webber (@kwebberwrites)
Moment: Introduction to the Sorting Hat and when Harry is sorted into Gryffindor
Why: As a proud Gryffindor, I have a lot of love for this moment. It is so satisfying to see Harry welcomed to the Gryffindor House and to know that he's going to be with Ron and Hermione. And it is so touching to see Harry nervous that maybe he won't be sorted at all, or he'll be sorted into the 'wrong' house, something that I think all children can really relate to. And then there is so much excitement when he is sorted...I can perfectly imagine the Weasley twins shouting 'We got Potter! We got Potter!' I love everything about the Hogwarts welcome and Sorting Hat ceremony. Especially the Sorting Hat song!

Name: Sian Browett (@browettsian)
Moment: Dumbledore talking to Harry after seeing the Mirror of Erised.
Why: I reread this book after suffering from depression and anxiety and Dumbledore's advice to Harry: 'it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live', really resonated with me. I think it's very easy to dwell on  negative feelings and forget the light around you, it's equally easy to get so wrapped up in wishing and dreaming that you don't get out there and do something to achieve those dreams. Dumbledore's words remind me to keep fighting to make dreams reality and live in the now - to be happy and work hard.

Name: Sophie @ So Many Books, So Little Time (@Sophie_Waters)
Moment: When Ron sacrifices himself in giant Wizard's Chess
Why: I think that this is the first time when everyone realises that Ron isn't just the comedy counterpart of the trio. He has his own set of skills and it just as vital to everything they achieve as Harry and Hermione are. This is where they truly become a team, for me.

Name: Robin Stevens (@redbreastedbird)
Moment: When Professor Quirrell turns around to reveal what's under his turban.
Why: I remember gasping in total shock. That was the moment I realised that this was a series that wouldn't pull its punches, that would go to awful places and completely outfox me with every reveal. And I wasn't wrong.

Name: Mel @ The Book Moo (YouTube, Instagram, @TheBookMoo)
Moment: I absolutely love the moment when Harry and Ron land Arthur's Ford Anglia in the Whomping Willow and then realise they're about to be killed by a tree that fights back!
Why: I love this moment because of all the places they could have landed, they land in the most dangerous tree in existence. Also, it's scary but comical!

Name: Lucy Hounsom (@Silvanhistorian)
Moment: When Harry shouts at the snake in the duelling club.
Why: Speaking parseltongue has to be one of the coolest abilities ever and it makes people think Harry is Slytherin's Heir and a dark wizard. (The reactions of the Hufflepuffs in the Library later on is priceless). It's also the first time Harry (albeit unconsciously) takes advantage of the link between himself and Voldemort, which in turn serves as a brilliant moment of foreshadowing.

Name: Nina (@serifinaxxx)
Moment: Meeting Lupin for the first time
Why: It established him as a character who I’d come to love- he took the Hogwarts Express with the students, he was responsible/heroic enough to help when the Dementor comes round, and he has enough chocolate for everyone!

Name: Sophie (@sophiemathilda)
Moment: Snape attempts to read the Marauder's Map
Why: Reading Harry Potter, you can't overlook the fact that the series has its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments, and this is one of my favourites. Without fail, I snort with laughter during every re-read - attractive I know - and most recently alarmed the surrounding tube carriage with my sudden giggling fit.

Name: Lucy Saxon (@Lucy_Saxon)
Moment: The whole Shrieking Shack sequence in Prisoner of Azkaban, especially the part where they're heading back to the castle and Harry's talking to Sirius.
Why: It's the first time in the series that Harry really has that hope of getting the family he never had; the family he should've had all along. I love Sirius and Remus, and had so much hope that the whole shack part was a lead in to them having a lot more involvement in Harry's life, freeing him from the Dursleys. Sadly, it was not to be!

Name: Sophie (Staff Member at
Moment: Towards the end of Prisoner, in the shrieking shack, when Sirius and Lupin have told Harry the truth and Harry realises that he still has a connection to his father, and essentially family, and there’s that brief moment when Harry thinks that he might be able to go live with Sirius.
Why: Prisoner is one of the books that I read over and over, and I think it’s because it’s not so much about Voldemort, but about finding out about family and connections. It was hard to narrow it down, but this was the moment that came to me first. I love the way that Sirius’s character is suddenly flipped, and you see him as a loyal friend to James, and now Harry. And, just Lupin too. What more is there to say? I love these characters and I always reread this scene over and over.

Name: Martin Stewart (@martinjstewart)
Moment: Lupin hugging Sirius in the Shrieking Shack.
Why: Books make us feel things so powerfully. There are moments of greater emotional intensity in Harry's journey, but my memory of watching Lupin embrace Sirius 'like a brother' is so strong- it was the moment Rowling began to really turn the screw, and I had then a sense of the darkness and hope that lay ahead. There is nothing more pleasurable as a reader than the sense of being taken in hand by a writer we trust: we know they'll take us wonderful places, show us brilliant things and tell us a story we'll remember forever. Lupin hugging Sirius, and the subsequent, wonderful reveal of what was REALLY going on, was when I settled in, reached out my hand, and prepared to follow J.K. Rowling wherever she was going to lead me.

Name: Claire Rousseau (@ClaireRousseau)
Moment: Remus 'switching sides' to stand with Sirius in the Shrieking Shack.
Why: It retains its impact the first and umpteenth I read it, for different reasons: I knew it wasn't a simple betrayal when I first read it because I trusted Remus' character. On rereads, it carries so much emotional weight from the backstory!

Name: Lesley Parr (@WelshDragonParr)
Moment: When Sirius and Lupin reveal the truth in the Shrieking Shack.
Why: I love a really satisfying twist and this one allows Harry and Sirius to have true family for the first time in 12 years. It also sketches in some of the blanks in Harry’s past and offers him hope for the future.

Name: Leah (@UTBookblog)
Moment: Sirius offers Harry his home and the chance to move away from the Dursleys.
Why: It's such a bittersweet moment - Harry finally has family that cares for him. That scene when they're walking out of the Shrieking Shack gives me goosebumps every time.

Name: Tamsyn Murray (@TamsynTweetie)
Moment: When Harry and Hermione use the Time-Turner to save Sirius and Buckbeak.
Why: I love everything about it, from the revelation that Hermione has been using the Time-Turner to go to extra lessons to the way Dumbledore raises the stakes by reminding them more than once that they must not be seen. It leads to a perfectly plotted, thrilling climax that is stuffed full of YAY (and a VERY annoyed Snape). In fact, I could really use a Time-Turner myself - anyone got Professor McGonnagal's address?

Name: Clare Zinkin ( and @minervamoan)
Moment: Harry’s first successful Patronus.
Why: Because of so many reasons 1) it’s to save Sirius (swoon), 2) the beautiful description of the silver dazzling stag against the black lake scattering the Dementors in its wake 3) Hermione so nearly with him at the time and yet just missing it and 4) because Dumbledore explains it later “Your father is alive in you, Harry…you found him inside yourself.” So powerful, so emotional, pitch perfect. Thanks JK!

Name: Miriam Craig (Bookysh Moo)
Moment: At the end of the book when Harry goes back in time to save Sirius, he takes a detour to find out who conjured the Patronus that protected him and Hermione from the Dementors, hoping it’s his father. But as he waits and waits for the Patronus to appear, he realizes it wasn’t his Dad – it was he himself.
Why: With this realization comes the sadness for Harry of not seeing his father as he had so hoped, but also the joy of discovering he can do powerful magic, and that he has the same Patronus as his Dad (a stag). The sense that he has more power than he realized, and a stronger connection with his father than he ever knew, gets me every time. (Just writing this has made me well up…)

Name: Kayleigh from K-Books and @K__Books)
Moment: When Harry tells Hermione that Sirius had asked him to go and live with him.
Why: because I just loved the thought of Harry having family that loved him and would treat him better than the Dursleys. It's one of the moments of the series that I had tears in my eyes. Yup, I know. I'm a softie.

Name: Daphne (Winged Reviews, Illumicrate and @wingedreviews)
Moment: Unforgivable Curses
Why: This is my favourite book for so many reasons and one of them is this scene. The fact that I'm a big nerd and love learning combined with my mad love for Mad-Eye Moody makes this a favourite moment. The scene had that brilliant teaching and awesome knowledge, but it also had character defining moments from Harry and Neville. Most of all, this lesson is a turning point - the moment when all the students stopped being innocent and started to feel the full weight of the dark arts and the horror of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I could read it over and over again.

Name: Non Pratt (@NonPratt)      
Moment: Mad-Eye Moody is the newly appointed Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and has just given his first lesson, demonstrating the Unforgivable Curses – including the Cruciatus Curse - on a spider. Afterwards, Neville is shaken, but Moody invites him up to his room for a cup of tea. Later, when Harry and Ron find him in the boys’ dormitory, Neville’s reading Magical Mediterranean Water-Plants and Their Properties, which Moody has given him because Professor Sprout said Neville was good at Herbology.
Why: I read my dad’s hardback American edition of Goblet of Fire lying on my side at two in the morning peering into an inch-wide gap between the pages so I wouldn’t damage the spine (my dad’s funny about his books). I’d already devoured Azkaban earlier that day, Chamber and Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone the day previously. It was my first experience of Harry Potter and I knew no one other than my two (divorced, countries apart) parents who’d read them. And I was in love with Neville Longbottom, bravest, kindest, least-appreciated of Gryffindors. So when Moody, to whom I was already warming, noticed Neville the way I had been noticing him, I felt a burst of intense pride on Neville’s behalf, I felt that finally he’d found someone to value him. I loved Moody for this. Really loved him, I wanted Neville to become badass at his subject and show us all how brilliant he was. Well. It didn’t work out like that, did it? When Barty Crouch emerged from within the clothes of my new favourite teacher, I didn’t feel betrayed on Harry’s behalf, I felt betrayed for Neville. And for me. When I cried at the end of this book, it wasn’t just for Cedric Diggory and his intensely proud father. It was for my Neville.

Name: Lauren James (@Lauren_E_James)
Moment: Hermione starting the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (SPEW).
Why: This was such a hugely defining moment for me. It was the first time I'd seen a female character working hard for something she strongly believed was wrong in the world, regardless of what people thought of her. It really established Hermione as one of my all time favourite female characters. The fact that she did all that as a very young teenager is even more impressive in retrospect.

Name: Tom Ellen
Moment: Ron catastrophically asking Fleur to the Yule Ball (Goblet of Fire).
Why: I choose this mainly for the line where Ron, having just passed out, says something like, 'They walked past me, Harry... You know I love the way they walk'. The idea that just the French girls WALKING near him has caused him to collapse and lose consciousness always makes me laugh. 

Name: Bethany Marsh (@bethany_marsh)
Moment: The graveyard scene, in particular the death of Cedric Diggory.
Why:  For me this is the moment when the Harry Potter series transforms from a fairly easy to read middle grade fantasy series into a mentally draining, heart-breaking exploration into the effects of survivors guilt, prejudice, grief and overwhelming responsibility. I was already hooked, but when I first read this chapter I knew that Harry Potter was something that would stick with me for life.

Name: Laura Sims (@laurasimsdoolin)
Moment: The last chapter of the book when Harry is recalling the days directly after Cedric's death/Voldemort's return.
Why: This is a very sad moment but for me it felt like such an honest portrayal of how we deal with grief that it has always stuck with me, especially as Harry is so young dealing with it. I particularly like the line after Harry tells Hagrid he is fine; 'No yeh're not', said Hagrid. 'Course yeh're not. But yeh will be', because it sums it all up so simply.

Name: Charlie (@charlieinabook)
Moment: The first DA meeting
Why: I love this moment because by now we've all been following along on Harry's journey, seen him go through some serious teen angst moments, but this is the first time we see all his classmates 'get it' - as well as Harry's speech about how he couldn't have done any of it without his friends. I loved seeing this little group of rebels take their future into their own hands by getting down to some serious studying!!

Name: Lucy Ivison (@lucyivison)
Moment: Hermione telling Ron he has the emotional range of a teaspoon.
Why: It's a classic Hermione piece of wit.

Name: Charli from To Another World (@Charli_TAW)
Moment: Harry's meeting with McGonagall
Why?: I love the Professors' obvious dislike for Umbridge and all her laws, and Rowling portrays this hate in such a brilliant way. And, of course, "have a biscuit, Potter" is classic.
Name: Rachel at Ya-bbering Booklover 
Moment: Chapter 28 Snape's worst memory. When Harry enters the Pensieve with Snape's memory and sees 15 year old Marauders.

'Did you like question ten Mooney?' asked Sirius as they emerged into the Entrance Hall.
'Loved it' said Lupin briskly. 'Give five signs that identify the werewolf. Excellent question.'
'D'you think you managed to get all the signs?' said James in tones of mock concern.
'Think I did,' said Lupin seriously... 'One: he's sitting in my chair. Two: he's wearing my clothes. Three: his name's Remus Lupin.'

Why: I love all the art and fanfiction surrounding the Marauders fandom (including pleasant amnesia concerning Wormtail) and this is the moment we get the first real sense of them. It is also followed by something really awful, which makes it all the more engaging and heart-wrenching. Love it! Bring on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for more Marauder fun!  
Name: Rachael Bellis (@raeraelefay)
Moment: This is excruciatingly difficult to choose but I'd have to say for me my favourite moment is when Luna helps everyone get to the MoM by pointing out the thestrals while everyone is arguing about how to get there (and the thestrals are right there).
Why: This is one of my favourite moments because Luna, someone who is constantly overlooked for her weirdness (remember even her friends sometimes call her "Loony" Lovegood) saves the day. I suppose I relate to Luna as a character on a personal level but also this moment teaches us not to disregard someone else's opinion just because it is different--sometimes that weird and unusual opinion is the best decision for everyone.

Name: Aoife Walsh (@AoifeMPWalsh)
Moment: The bit in Half-Blood Prince where Rufus Scrimgeour accuses Harry of being 'Dumbledore's man through and through' and Harry says, 'Yeah, I am. Glad we straightened that out.'
Why: I am not one of those people who thinks Harry is not a lovable character, in fact I, er, love him, but there aren't many moments in the books where he is this ice-cool. Take that, Scrimgeour. It exquisitely sums up the delicate balance between faith and loyalty and independence of action which is set to BLOW THE HELL UP in the next book.

Name: George Lester (@TheGeorgeLester)
Moment: "Harry, however, had never been less interested in Quidditch; he was rapidly becoming obsessed with Draco Malfoy."

Name: Stevie (YouTube)
Moment: Harry kisses Ginny.
Why: This was the culmination of years of shipping, of believing and hoping that Harry and Ginny would happen, of arguing they were obviously going to. When they finally come together it's so brilliant, full of such love and careless of all artifice, yet at the same time you also get the witness the look on Ron's face.

Name: Darren @ Bart’s Bookshelf
Moment: Harry’s Horntail ‘Tattoo'
Why: I’ve always really enjoyed the moments where the trio are just allowed to be friends, and this one has some added Harry/Ginny interaction, and gentle Ron teasing. What’s not to like‽

Name: Rosie (Staff member at and Alohomora! Podcast host)
Moment: Harry discovers a letter from Lily to Sirius thanking him for the presents he'd sent for Harry's first Birthday. With the letter is a photograph of Harry riding a toy broomstick.
Why: Come on, how adorable is that image of baby Harry? In this seventh and last book we are still faced with the images that have haunted Harry since book one: here in this letter we find a reflection of the Mirror of Erised, him and his parents together. Harry can see a snapshot of what could have been, the happy family life that has been lost, even with the fun Godfather Harry didn't know about taking his role. This is the reason Harry fights, to restore the world to the potential happiness stored in this photo. Of course the scene becomes only more poignant when we later realise the photograph is torn because Snape has taken the image of Lily, happy and alive, for himself. So much emotion contained in such a tiny amount of paper!

Name: Daniel
Moment: Dobby's death
Why: I think it's the most emotional part and it brings to life how attached you become to the characters as you read the books.
Name: Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm
Moment: Hermione and Ron kiss, finally.  
Why: I spent most of my time reading this book whilst sobbing, but that was a moment where I could laugh and smile through the tears. It's a moment that I am sure a lot of Harry Potter fans had been waiting for, myself included. And it felt right that they'd both wait until they were about to enter a battle, where they had a good chance of dying, to finally act on their feelings. 

Name: Michelle Toy (@ChelleyToy)
Moment: Dying Snape releases a cloud of memories and tells Harry, who has watched Snape be bitten by Nagini from a hidden spot, to take and view them. 
Why: What is revealed left me shocked, an emotional wreck and gave me goose bumps at the time of reading it.  It changes so much of what you thought of Snape in the first six Harry Potter books.  I hear that JK Rowling planned Snape’s back story from the beginning and built around it which is pure genius!  I heart Snape forever!

Name: Sarah's Chapter
Moment: Percy reuniting with the Weasley family at the start of the Battle of Hogwarts. 
Why: His character's redemption was an unexpectedly sweet moment and allowed the family to be fully together for the last time. It's a lovely, hilarious and joyful moment and I'm so glad JK Rowling included it.

Name:Helen Maslin (@HelenMaslin)
Moment: My favourite moment comes during Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts) when the school is surrounded by Death Eaters and Voldemort demands that Harry be handed over. Pansy Parkinson points at Harry and screams for someone to grab him. And then this happens...
"Before Harry could speak, there was a massive movement. The Gryffindors in front of him had risen and stood facing, not Harry, but the Slytherins. Then the Hufflepuffs stood, and, almost at the same moment, the Ravenclaws, all of them with their backs to Harry, all of them looking towards Pansy instead, and Harry, awestruck and overwhelmed, saw wands emerging everywhere, pulled from beneath cloaks and from under sleeves."
Why: If I have to pick just one moment from seven books when each of them are crammed with favourite moments - some of which are brilliantly comic moments or small but heart-breaking moments or huge,climactic, thrilling moments (and it seems I do have to pick just one) then it has to be a moment from the final book and the final battle, because that's the point that all the other books have been leading up to. Good versus evil. And this particular moment when the students stand in front of Harry is when the line is finally drawn and sides are chosen. Although Voldemort is infinitely more dangerous than Harry, the majority of students choose to stand against him. Instinctively. They will defend Harry as a fellow student and fight for him as a symbol of what's right - and they don't even have to think about it.  It suggests that the rest of the wizarding world will back Harry too. I think it's one of the most hopeful moments in the book. It's written very movingly too - like choreography in the way everyone gets up in this sweeping, silent motion that speaks of defiance and loyalty and unity. God, I'm tearing up just writing this stuff...

Name: Elizabeth (@briony2181)
Moment: Kreacher leading the house elves against Voldemort in the battle of Hogwarts, with "the locket of Regulus Black bouncing on his chest"
Why: I find Kreacher's pride in wearing the locket and fighting in the name of his master so many years on really touching and always feel sad that it didn't make it into the movies

Name: Moïra Fowley-Doyle (@moirawithatrema)
Moment: The teachers being badass during the battle of Hogwarts: McGonagall leading enchanted desks with a cry of "CHARGE!" and Trelawney throwing crystal balls at Death Eaters.
Why: The entirety of the battle of Hogwarts is breathless and devastating, and this moment is the school itself fighting back - classroom supplies and all.
Name: Melinda Salisbury (@AHintofMystery)
Moment: The opening of The Forest Again
Why: "He felt his heart pounding fiercely in his chest. How strange that in his dread of death, it pumped all the harder, valiantly keeping him alive. But it would have to stop, and soon. Its beats were numbered. How many would there be time for, as he rose and walked through the castle for the last time, out into the grounds and into the forest?”

For me, the most powerful moment in the whole series, the moment that floored me, most of all is Harry walking into the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort. Harry's absolute and utter despair as he understands his situation, and the way he accepts it, even as he dreads it. It doesn't for one second occur to Harry to run, or to try and fight. Because he knows the fight is over. The revelation of his destiny, the bright, brutal horror of it is devastating. And even in those moments, he makes sure Neville knows to kill Nagini. He wishes for a life with Ginny. He's so young and old and human all at once. I have never loved Harry more than I did during his long, slow, walk through the forest, during his reunion with the parents he never really knew, and the surrogate family he lost too soon.

“Does it hurt?" The childish question had escaped Harry's lips before he could stop it.
"Dying? Not at all," said Sirius. "Quicker and easier than falling asleep.”
Harry's determined bravery in walking towards his death  with an open heart, has given me the courage to do so many things that have scared me in the eight years since Deathly Hallows was released. I've never been able to read it without crying.
Name: Georgia Stencel, The Books Bandit 
Moment: "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, pity those who live without love." 
Why: This quotation has many meanings, one being the fact that Dumbledore is saying that pity those who have to live with suffering, mourning, and sadness because when you’re dead- you’re in a better place than you were when you were alive. Furthermore, Harry had to love without love all his life, as he was forced to live with his horrible aunt and uncle, and life without love is worse than death. Even though this was used to evoke emotion in Harry, and was used to suit the entire novel, what Dumbledore said suits the world and it is a beautiful thing to remember!

Name: Jim from YA Yeah Yeah and Teens on Moon Lane (@yayeahyeah)
Moment: Neville pulling the Sword of Gryffindor out of the sorting hat and killing Nagini.
Why: Neville is my absolute favourite character and has what I think is the strongest character arc; it's brilliant to see him as a true hero here. Also, I love the numerous call-backs to earlier books throughout DH and it's great to see the sword pulled out of the hat in the same way it was in the Chamber of Secrets.

Name: Lorraine Gregory (@authorontheedge)
Moment: A long awaited, brilliantly exciting and dramatic scene from the final book - Bellatrix Lestrange, Death Eater, torturer, killer of both Sirius Black AND Dobby finally receives her just comeuppance during the battle of Hogwarts.
Why: Best of all though, JK Rowling gives the honour of killing her not to Harry, but to a character who was often overlooked. This mum was generally seen cleaning or cooking or worrying over her family and anyone else she could find. But here, in this epic moment, Mrs Weasley, seeing her only daughter threatened, leaps in to the fray like a lioness protecting her cub and with a stunning demonstration of spell casting finally defeats the evil Bellatrix in thrilling fashion.

What a fabulous selection of moments! (Yes, there may have been SLIGHTLY over 50, but how could we cut any of them out?!)

I think I may need 50 years to recover from putting all that together - but see you all in 2065 for JKR's 100th birthday and a top 100 moments, anyone?!

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Ah, Mr Cole. I've been expecting you . . .

So, Mr Cole . . . *strokes furry white cat*
Thanks for agreeing to be interrogated – I mean quizzed – by me.

Sorry . . . I am guessing you get that a lot now that you are writing YOUNG BOND! How exciting is that?! And, more importantly, tell us about it: how did you get the gig?

One day in December 2012 I was phoned up by my agent who asked if I’d be interested in taking on Young Bond. I hadn’t realized that Charlie Higson had not written one since 2008. It was so exciting and a real privilege to be asked. I had to outline what I’d do with Young Bond, and write some sample chapters, and meet the Ian Fleming people, all while keeping everything top secret…

Were you a fan of Bond as a child? If so, was it the books or the films?

Looking back, Bond was always about in my childhood. I had the toy Aston Martin from Goldfinger, my mum had a big pash for Roger Moore so I saw him on TV and in books and magazines a lot. The first Bond film I saw at the cinema was For Your Eyes Only and from there I never missed one. I started on the books when I was 14 or so, after watching A View To A Kill, which was named for a Fleming Bond short story. I wondered if the print version was very different. It was – and opened my eyes to Bond in print!

Which actor is your favourite Bond and why?

I think every screen Bond has brought something different to the role, and I genuinely enjoy all of them. Some have possibly stuck around in the part too long, but can you blame them? They’re getting to be James Bond!

You seem to be on the road a lot – what sort of exotic locations do you visit? (I assume the book budget doesn’t stretch to sending you off to research the settings for the Bond books?)

I’m very lucky to travel as much as I do, promoting my books. I’ve talked in America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Spain, Ireland, Belgium… Shoot to Kill is set mainly in Los Angeles and although I’ve been there a few times I was very happy to visit again just to recapture the feel of the place!
Of course, you write many other books besides the Young Bond series. Many MANY others in fact including the Astrosaurs series, Cows in Action, Secret Agent Mummy and your latest book, Stop Those Monsters! How on earth do you manage to write so much cracking stuff whilst whizzing around the planet in a spiderman suit, playing your ukulele to packed schools of adoring fans? (I have seen the photos, so don’t deny it.)

I hate to contradict James Bond but You Only Live Once and I like to cram as much action and opportunity into existence as I can. Who needs sleep, anyway?

No interrogation – I mean interview – would be complete without mentioning your connection with the best programme in the universe. By which I of course mean Doctor Who. When did you first become a fan?

My earliest memory is of watching Doctor Who, when I was 3. I have never stopped watching it! I am super-geeky about it.

Which actor is your favourite Doctor and why?

Tom Baker is the Doctor I grew up with and so he’ll always be number one. As with the Bonds, I genuinely love them all, but I was won over most by Matt Smith. He had a tough job coming in after David Tennant’s incredibly popular Doctor and he did it by becoming more like the old, eccentric Doctor Whos. He was endearing and exciting and made you believe.

How did you get your job with the BBC working on Doctor Who books and merchandise and how did you feel when you got the job?

I was working at BBC Magazines and the books, videos and audio goodies were being made upstairs. When I heard they were looking for someone to be in charge of them all, I took a pay cut to do it! The bosses were baffled that I would drop down the career ladder to do this, but I convinced them I didn’t mind – I was just so excited by the idea of steering my favourite character in print and other media! It was an exciting time.

Has being a Whovian influenced your writing? If so, how?

Doing the Doctor Who job was an incredible amount of work so I only lasted a couple of years before burning out, but it taught me a lot about writing and story structure – and about working at high speed!

People often ask me if I am related to Jacqueline Wilson (answer: NO!). Are you related to any famous Coles? (I am not going to ask about Cheryl.)

I am sometimes asked if I’m related to the writer/illustrator Babette Cole. I am not, though… nor Cheryl… nor Andy… nor the famous American jazz musician Steve Cole…

Thank you, Mr Cole. Your answers have been most . . . enlightening. Now if you would just step this way I would like to show you my shark-infested pool— I mean that’s all we have time for. It’s been a pleasure. *strokes furry white cat and grins evilly whilst opening trap door*

I take it back – I am actually the famous American jazz musician Steve Cole – get him instead!!!

(The interrogator was the evil Anna Wilson, author of The Puppy Plan and Summer's Shadow. She would like to thank Steve Cole for entering into her lair and assures readers that she has now released him so that he can continue writing most excellent middle grade fiction. His latest book STOP THOSE MONSTERS! is out now. Read it, or face the consequences. Mwhahahaha.)

Sunday 26 July 2015

Imogen’s Book of the Week: Katy, by Jacqueline Wilson (Puffin, 30th July)

Hello! Last week was lost, alas, to the glory of YALC – but this week I’m returning to MG Strikes Back with my Sunday best: Jacqueline Wilson’s ‘Katy’, published by Puffin on the 30th July 2015.

Image result for katy jacqueline wilson

‘Katy’ is a retelling of Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did; a book I adored as a child, but found problematic on re-reading. Coolidge’s young characters, including eponymous Katy Carr, long, leggy, irrepressible, and always tumbling into trouble with the best of intentions, and her five delightful siblings, have worn pretty well. But the plot, in which Katy falls from a swing and injures her back, but is restored to full mobility after transforming herself into a sweet-natured ‘little mother’ and angel in the home, is less palatable. For disabled readers, their families, and anyone who cares about treating disability as more than a convenient trope to be smoothed away into a happily ever after, What Katy Did tends now to leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.

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Spoiler alert - Jacqueline Wilson’s ‘Katy’ has no such plot-convenient happy ending. Katy Carr is the eldest of six, a lively, risk-taking teller of tall tales and setter of bad examples, perpetually in trouble at school and with her stepmum, Izzie. One day, sullen at being left out of a family outing, she improvises a makeshift swing and falls, suffering irreversible damage to her spine. Fun-loving, daredevil Katy must now adapt to life as a wheelchair user – and to a very different family dynamic. In her own inimitable, funny, but uncompromising style, Wilson faces and translates Katy’s overwhelming pain and grief, her parents’ sorrow, her friends’ self-conscious discomfort, and her siblings’ blunders as they try to come to terms with a new version of their beloved leader.

This book, a serious contender for JW’s career best, made me heave enormous, headache-inducing sobs, and left me feeling like a kitten put through a spin cycle - but I’m grateful that Wilson has written it. Refusing to temporise or hedge its bets, ‘Katy’ is raw, honest, and ultimately uplifting, carefully balancing grief, acceptance and tentative optimism. In hospital, Katy dreams that she can walk again, and wakes to renewed heartbreak; she also meets the blackly funny Dexter, with whom she can share her sorrow. Her best friend Cecy is, at first, standoffish to Katy-in-a-wheelchair – but they manage to break through the thin, icy strangeness between them, and rediscover their bond. Katy has lost a great deal, but her life is not over – and a rich future still awaits her, although it’s not the one she had expected.

Wilson’s Carrs are a thoroughly blended bunch, the product of two marriages, which feels like a particularly astute authorial decision, helping to make sense of the sheer size of the family, which might otherwise feel hard to believe for contemporary kids. Wilson took a similar approach when she revisited E. Nesbit a few years back, with a splendidly comic Psammead homage, ‘Four Children and It’. What she has done with Coolidge’s dated masterpiece, however, far surpasses her source; and deserves to be read, wept over, and appreciated as a classic in its own right.