Ready to judge Harry Potter books by their covers? Some of them are great, and some of them are definitely not (what were you thinking, Sweden?), but they’re all worth critiquing.
Image via Flipsnack
These are great. We’ve got CREATURES. We’ve got ATMOSPHERE. We’ve got great art—look at that dragon! And it looks like the artist actually had any idea what the books were about. They’re pretty, and I want them.
Image via The Washington Post
A very close second! Fewer cool animals though, so it loses a point. The dragon isn’t as good, he looks like he’s about eight on the Deathly Hallows cover, and someone got too excited about hair and beards. There’s also a lot of fire? Same good concept, but very different energy.
Image via Goodreads
It’s good, but it’s not great. These are the covers I grew up with, so I might be biased, but I like the strong color choices, especially in the later books, and the faces look pretty normal. Hermione does have red hair for some reason, which is the worst, but overall decent.
Image via Reddit
These have a real grim vibe, but I dig it. The thestrel looks like a nightmare, the dragon is fierce in stead of cute, and that ring of ghosts is pretty alarming. Harry also looks his age on all of them. Some of them are just ok though, and Dumbledore could be cooler.
New 20th Anniversary
Image via Bustle
Why would you make this? They’re overworked and creepy, and I don’t have any idea why you’d use black and white, the design is weird, not everyone’s face needs to be on every book. Harry looks like seven different people. Dumbledore is the worst.
Image via Flipsnack
I’m sorry, but the illustration style is condescending and the faces are bad. And does harry have a spray tan on the last cover? The hyippogryph is pretty cool, but the dragon is terrible and the phoenix is so so. Sorry people who grew up with these, but they’re no good.
Chasing the Turtle
These are terrible, obviously, but in a surprisingly retro way? This looks like a bad fantasy or sci-fi cover from the sixties or something. Like, it’s not WEIRD MAGIC BOOKS for WEIRD PEOPLE, it’s Harry Potter. Why would you do this to yourselves? And is that photo harry on an illustrated background in the first one? Yikes.
Books, Writing, and Other Things
What is this. Those glasses aren’t in front of his eyes. I don’t understand the attitude. I don’t understand the frosted tips. These look like ebook exclusives I wouldn’t buy. My eyes are angry. And why is he just sort of leaning into every frame? Thanks. I hate it.
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I know I know, half of you are scandalized, but today, on the eighteenth anniversary of the film release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, how am I supposed to bring sorcery into it? Apparently american children in 1997 thought philosophy was for nerds. You know what’s for nerds? Harry Potter. There are a lot of ways to reminisce about the only movie where they actually wear robes, but we’re internet people second, here at Bookstr. I think you know where this is going.
Image via QuickMeme
Alright, I was the same age as Harry when I first read this book, and not much older when I saw the movie, but what was Dumbledore’s thinking here? I admit I don’t remember all the details, but you basically can’t get into Gringotts, and you certainly can’t get out. And that’s under normal circumstances! They couldn’t throw another dragon or two in front of the thing? And let me ask you this: did they ever try dragons against Voldemort in the first place? I don’t care how much of an evil badass you are or whatever, what are you really going to do with ten tonnes of angry fire lizard in front of you? I know they threw dragons at children in the fourth book, but without warning? Please. I just want to know they tried it. And I know Hogwarts is supposed to be pretty safe, but even without all the later counter-evidence, I’d wonder.
Actually, What Did He Do?
Image via Inverse
This is a dazzling take, obviously, and there’s a lot to unpack, but really it just made me wonder what Malfoy’s dad like… does. Sure, he’s a Death Eater, but not every second, and how much Death Eater work is there to do while Voldemort’s presumed dead? I know he’s very busy being privileged and racist and hearing about things Potter does, but what does he do the rest of the time? Just sit around the house being angry about things and making house elves miserable? For real, it’s never mentioned that he works at the ministry or anything. We really don’t know anything about how the Malfoys got so powerful, or about what they do now. It never bothered me before, but now it’s driving me crazy. I also absolutely love the suggestion that he invented toaster strudel. Invented it! It’s so random and so muggle centric. Priceless.
More Great Ideas!
Image via Inverse
Alright, so you’re not allowed to go into the forest, because it’s STUPID dangerous, and you’d definitely die. Also, it’s even more dangerous than usual because someone’s going around killing and eating unicorns. Never go there! Wait, out after dark, maybe risking their lives trying to relocate an illegal dragon for the groundskeeper? Well, why don’t you do something even more dangerous for that very same groundskeeper? It’s like, oh, you’re smoking? How about some meth? That’ll teach you. I mean, I guess they learn something, but it’s not their lesson, I think the rest of the story can attest. And the second they’re in the forest, Hagrid is like, you know what? Let’s split the party. Best witch with me! Here’s my dog, try not to die. And then, not only are they in danger, but it’s literal Voldemort, running around in the woods right by the school. Who’s keeping track of school safety around here?
We Don’t Judge. Or Use Judgement.
Image via Inverse
Look, I know the twins are chill as it gets, but they really should have noticed this. Don’t judge, that’s great! But bring it up, please? Did they see it and go “aww, Ron has a friend” like, shouldn’t they know there’s noone named Peter in his year? They’re only a year or so above, and there are like five boys in his class, how would they not realise? Especially when this guy goes everywhere with Ron? I know what you’re going to say. Why would they ever actively check where Ron is? Well, if they want to sneak out of the tower, wouldn’t they need to know everyone else was asleep? And why weren’t they even a little worried any of the times Ron was just AWOL in the middle of the night? I know they support making poor discipline related choices, but he’s a baby, aren’t they worried? Have they ever walked right past him when he’s in the invisibility cloak? What did they think then, I beg of you?
Image via Someecards
These nerds had their moments. We all like to talk about Harry, as we should. “No need to call me sir, Professor” was the line of a generation, and I like him telling Snape that Ron’s misspelled name is a nickname. They say a lot of stuff to Snape. But I don’t think Hermione gets enough credit. She has fewer moments, sure, but they’re absolutely metal. Remember when she bitch slapped Malfoy, muggle style? Your fave could never. And what’s Malfoy going to do, tell his father? Hi dad, today I was slapped at wizard school. It would never occur to someone who’s always had magic right there. I’m honestly just sad she never slapped him again. Oh, sure, she could outspell him too, she’s a much better caster, but there’s just such a big energy about hitting that dude in the face. Classic.
Back in July, we here at Bookstr reported that a fist edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had sold at auction for £28,500, or, $34,650.73! Finishing that article, we said that “Sadly, you can’t get this copy anymore since, well, you know, it’s been bought for a gigantic amount of money” but turns out we were wrong!
The long and short of it is that back in the day, when J.K. Rowling wrote the first of seven books (seven? Wow!), it was entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and later re-titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because British publishers weren’t confident American children would know what a ‘philosopher’ was.
This 1997 edition contains two tell-tale errors: the misspelling of ‘philosopher’s’ on the back page and a double mention of “1 wand” on page 53 in an equipment list.
IMAGE VIA ITV
Now another first edition has has sold for over £46,000 (roughly $57,303) at auction in the U.K, with the buyer paying a total of £57,040 (roughly $71,000) to cover both fees and taxes.
Image Via The Verge
Shockingly, this first edition of Harry Potter was expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 (roughly $24,000 to $37,000), but a telephone bidding war Thursday skyrocketed the final price. This is happened because, according to the Hansons Auctioneers in Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England, there were four phone bidders, as well as internet bidders, that helped boost the book from its estimated selling point.
It also might be because the book was kept in pristine condition in a locked briefcase for 20 years, reports the BBC. Jim Hanson, the Hansons book expert, told the Birmingham Mail he “couldn’t believe the condition” of the auctioned book, saying its quality was “almost like the day it was made. I can’t imagine a better copy can be found.”
IMAGE VIA BBC/NOTE THAT “PHILOSOPHER’S” IS SPELLED AS “PHILOSPHER’S” HERE
The book was in such great condition because after the owners realized this edition’s importance, they planned to keep it as an heirloom. What made them decide to sell the book was after they heard about that first edition Philosopher’s Stone selling for over $35,000 in July.
Can’t say I blame them! Unsurprisingly, once the decided to sell the book, Hanson says that:
The owners took such great care of their precious cargo they brought it to me in a briefcase, which they unlocked with a secret code. It felt like we were dealing in smuggled diamonds.
We’ve all craved a magical food that doesn’t actually exist, or we’ve read about a real food that didn’t live up to the hype of our childhood imaginations. Here are some of the foods (in no particular order) that still seem to appear in my dreams.
There are what feels like hundreds of candies within the walls of Willy Wonka’s factory, all of which sound absolutely mouthwatering. However, everlasting gobstoppers stick out to me because they actually exist. You can go down to your local corner store and buy a box right now if you really wanted to.
But you don’t want to. Because the real everlasting gobstoppers are flavorless little balls of cement. And the fictional ones are, well, fictional.
The tree formed when a toffee candy was planted in the ground in the moment of Narnia’s creation, and it grew at an incredible rate because the song that brought Narnia to life was still clinging to the world.
Must taste pretty good, with an epic backstory like that.
Pasta puttanesca is a very real dish, and something you can order at most Italian restaurants. However, sometimes the way something tastes in reality just can’t compare to the way it tastes in your imagination.
In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the pasta puttanesca serves as a small amount of comfort in the bleak world that the Baudelaire children have found themselves in after the death of their parents. Something about the warm, homey feeling that it provides makes it an absolutely crave worthy dish.
Sam-I-Am was pretty insistent about this dish. If someone follows you from a house, to a box, to a tree, to a train, to the dark, to the rain, to a boat just to get you to try a bite of their food then they’re probably insane.
But they probably also have some pretty good eats.
Coraline isn’t particularly excited by this dish, choosing instead to stick with her frozen mini-pizzas. However, considering the themes of family and parental love in this novel, this soup dish gives off a cozy and homey sort of vibe.
And if someone hands you a warm pot of homemade soup, that someone must love you an awful lot! Certainly more than your eyeless, soul stealing, puppet mom.
Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio, has a knack for animating foods in the most delicious looking way possible. This particular gif is from My Neighbor Totoro, as the saffron tea from Kiki’s Delivery Service didn’t make it’s way out of the book.
In the book the tea serves as a reminder of Kiki’s home while her travels become too much to handle. The smell and the warmth remind Kiki of her mother, and the memory helps keep her spirits high while she’s speeding around on her broom.
This one is a bit macabre, but there’s something undeniably intriguing about the unicorn blood in the Harry Potter.
The golden trio (plus Draco) are serving detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, when they stumble upon a pool of shiny silver goo. When they see a shadowy figure knelt over the body of the unicorn, the kids all run away screaming, except for Harry who stumbles over a tree root.
He’s saved by a centaur, the story moves on, and no one even asks for a sip of that shiny, magic goop.
For those unaware, middle-grade fiction is fiction aimed at readers between the ages of eight and twelve whereas YA, or Young Adult, is fiction aimed to readers who are thirteen to eighteen. See? Simple enough.
Not so. There’s a lot more that goes into books than the ages of their readers, so we have to get specific here. Lucky for us, Master Class defines both middle-grade and YA fiction using these useful bullet points, so those will be our foundation:
The characteristics that middle-grade fiction tends to share are:
They contain no profanity or graphic violence.
Romance is limited to crushes and first kisses.
Protagonists are roughly between the ages of 10 and 13.
Middle-grade novels are typically between 30,000 and 50,000 words long and voiced in the third person.
Characters typically react to what happens to them within their immediate world with a focus on friends and family.
The protagonist (and narrator) generally do not delve too much into self-reflection but instead focus on real-life situations.
The characteristics that young adult fiction tends to share are:
Profanity and graphic violence are permissible, reflecting the maturity of the reading group.
Romance is allowed, but not eroticism.
Protagonists are typically between 15 and 18 years old, reflecting the age of the reading group.
Young adult novels are generally 50,000 and 75,000 words, though fantasy does tend to exceed that length.
Young adult fiction is typically focused on how the main character fits in the ‘grown-up‘ world beyond their family and friends, reflecting on events and analyzing their meaning. to better understand themselves, their journey, and the world they are coming into
Because of the amount of self-reflection and internality, YA novels are often told in the first person from the protagonist’s point of view.
Keep in mind that the points above aren’t hard and fast rules. Something can be YA and not hit all the points, something can be middle-grade are not hit all the points too. The long and short of it is they have to hit most of them.
Let’s face it, kids can take that type of profanity. Maybe you won’t find that in a children’s book written by Dr. Seuss, but I could see you finding that ‘language’ in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
The violence isn’t bloody and the only person who dies, Professor Quirrell, is off-screen in the book (not in the film, and I love it for it). There is no romance in the book. Harry’s much more concerned with safety and family.
At 76,944 words, the book is a little long for middle-grade, but, again, the rules listed above are not hard and fast ones.
Plus, since the eleven year old Harry Potter most certainly reacts to what happens to them within their immediate world with a focus on friends and family and doesn’t stop to ask, “Was knocking out that troll really the best thing I could do?”, than I’d say the first Harry Potter book is most certainly middle-grade.
Image Via Pinterest
Same goes for Chamber of Secrets. It’s a straight up mystery novel and Harry wants to find out who’s petrifying these poor children. Oh no! It was the bad guy all along, who’s still around thanks to his evil diary and the help of a giant snake! Heck, even though Ginny is obsessed with Harry, sending him a singing valentine. Harry just finds the whole thing embarrassing!
Image Via Harry Potter Wiki – Fandom
While Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban still has Harry’s concerns mostly focused outwards and features no romance, but things are getting dicey. That man who’s a prisoner? He didn’t actually do it, and at the conclusion of the novel he hasn’t been proven innocent to the general public. Overall, the book is much more serious than the previous. The characters, such as Lupin and Sirus, are more ambiguous than the previous.
With Harry being fourteen, in the middle of what a typical middle-grade and YA protagonist is, we see Harry in his transitional phase as the series progresses to being a YA novel. Technically the book still might be middle-grade, but with a 107,253 word count I’m comfortable calling it YA because things are right on the cusp.
Image Via Amazon
Things aren’t on the cusp in Goblet of Fire. Although there’s no profanity, there are some high intense situations involve a dragon and another involving mermaids and while there is no gore, an innocent boy by the name of Cedric Digory dies for absolute no reason. Romance is now front and center.
Harry finds himself smitten with Cho Chang from Ravenclaw and is jealous of Cedric Diggory who asked her to the Yule Ball before he had worked up the nerve while his best buddy Ron becomes oh so jealous that Victor Krum attends the ball with Hermione.
Image Via Twitter
Harry is fifteen, young for a YA protagonist but still a YA protagonist. Harry’s not really on a mission to find out who put his name in the Goblet of Fire, he’s more concerned with social expectations. He’s looking into himself, most certainly, even if the book isn’t first person.
Image Via Amazon
Order of the Phoenix has Harry dealing with the fact the Ministry of Magic doesn’t believe that He-Who-Has-No-Nose is back. As a result, he starts getting rebellious. His angst-ridden interior very much has a YA voice. I don’t know about you, but this book gives me real Hunger Games vibes with Harry’s whole “I’m going to rebel” shtick even after a professor who loves the color pink and cats tortures him.
On the romantic side, Harry goes on his first date and has his first kiss. Both of which are with Cho, but those don’t go well. She’s still grieving her loss. Speaking of internal conflict, Harry’s dealing with the call to action to fight He-Who-Must-Not-Look-Human.
I’d call it YA.
Image Via Imgflip
Plus, that’s not even mention how Sirius bites the bullet in the end because of his murderous cousin.
Image Via Harry Potter Wiki – Fandom
Come Half-Blood Prince we have Ron dating Lavender Brown to make Hermione, and Harry getting on board with dating Ginny. Also typical of YA book, Henry has to look inwards: Does he want to put his friends and girlfriend in danger?
No, and that’s why his relationship with Ginny ends. It’s a very personal reason to end a relationship, and thus is why I’d call this book YA.
Plus, given that Snape becomes the most sympathetic before doing the most heinous thing in front of Harry, different things are getting ambiguous and thus adding to Harry’s internal conflict.
Image Via Barnes & Noble
In Deathly Hallows we get the conclusion to the series and the conclusion to all of these character arcs. Along the way, we see jealousy when Ron is influenced by the locket and thinks harry might just end up with Hermione, which means there’s a ton of internal conflict for both Ron and Harry. What should Harry do? Send his friend away, or try to resolve the situation? This only add to the fact that this is Ginny’s brother, and Harry misses Ginny like nobody else except a man head-over-heels.
With the conflict right at their doorstep, Harry, while he cares about them, focuses less on his friends and more on how to defeat He-Who’s-Name-Sounds-Like-Moldy-Wart.
Plus, Harry realizes how those around you can surprise you. Remember Snape, the sympathetic guy turned villain? Well, he’s the hero of this story who only killed Dumbledore because it was all apart of the plan. Also, things get a little gray when it turns out Snape was in love with Harry’s mom far before Harry’s Dad, James, came along.
Despite the fairy tale epilogue, this book I’d still call YA given it has Harry realizing how he can stand as his own person and do what he feels is right.
Image Via Amazon
All in all, I’ll say whatever everyone else has said: The series grew up with its readers
But I don’t want to end it there. With the debate ongoing about whether or not how much or how little The Chronicles of Narnia is YA or how much or how little The Giver series is YA, the debate of what the Harry Potter series hasn’t ended just because one of the best articles you’ve ever read has been published.
Thus, I have to ask: does it even matter? On Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary, Voxwrote that “[Harry Potter] was a global sensation that everyone had to read, even adults…in a post- Harry Potter world, it is taken for granted that YA is universal”.
Image Via VJ Books
At ThrillerFest 2019, F Paul Wilson was asked why he decided to write middle-grade fiction. His response was simply: after he went into Microsoft Word to check and see how many active and passives sentences he had. While on there, Microsoft also told him his reader level. “Didn’t have to change my style,” he noted, but it was helpful knowing the reading level when it came to marketing the book.
Image Via Fatherly
However, the best summation of middle-grade and YA came from R. L. Stine, who noted that, “The main difference between middle-grade and YA is ten dollars.”