Link to us!
If you would like to use the graphic above, just save the icon image to your server and link it back to feoamante.com!
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN - 1999
by J. K. Rowling
Hardcover - $19.95
Who is Harry Potter?
He is a thirteen-year-old boy who gets a biting book for his birthday. A boy who turns his mean,
hateful aunt into a giant aunt-shaped balloon. A boy who sneaks a flashlight
under his covers, risking dire punishment in order to do homework. A boy
who hates summer vacation. Obviously, this is no ordinary boy.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN is J.K. Rowling's third tale in the enchanting (but
far from perfect) world of the young wizard, Harry Potter. While the series is primarily aimed at the younger audience, there is enough here to interest more mature readers as well. As we follow along in young
Harry's adventures, Rowling delights the reader with the wonders of magic.
Yet at the same time, she exposes the very real darkness that plague us
in our everyday lives - bigotry, greed, fear, and betrayal.
As always, the story opens with Harry living in misery at the house of his aunt and
uncle, the Dursleys. The Dursleys are perfect examples of small-minded
bigots. They are muggles (the Wizard term for non-magical people), and
prefer to pretend that the world of magic does not exist at all. In all
ways, they try to act and appear as "normal" to the outside
world. Harry, who is decidedly not "normal," is the outcast
of the family. The Dursleys tell everyone that Harry is a student at a
boarding school for juvenile delinquents (St. Brutus's
Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys), and treat him horribly
at every turn. When his uncle's sister ("Aunt"
Marge) comes for a visit, she constantly refers to Harry as a "mongrel
pup" and other such endearing terms (Such a
Harry's summer exile from the magical world ends abruptly when his anger at his "Aunt"
Marge erupts (well to be fair, she did call him a underbred runt, his mother a bitch, and his father a wastrel - after
all the cumulative abuse, even a saint would have lost his temper),
and he finds himself spending the rest of his summer in the magical Diagon
Alley. There, he is given the freedom to do as he pretty much pleases,
so long as he doesn't try to return to the "normal" world until
the start of the new school term.
Everyone in the wizarding world is alarmed by the escape of a dire criminal from
the wizard prison of Azkaban. This escaped criminal, Sirius Black, was
convicted for the murder of thirteen people with a single curse. And as
Harry overhears in a conversation between his friend Ron's parents, it
would seem that this murderer escaped with one goal in mind - to go after
This sets the dark mood for the rest of the book.
Throughout the story, mysterious and dark things happen to Harry, and several times
his life is placed in real danger - pretty par for the course, really.
But there are a few new twists. Creatures called dementors, embodiments
of misery, are sent out by the authorities to seek out and recapture Black.
With most people they seem to cause depression and hopelessness, but for
Harry, the experience is much worse - he hears voices from his past, relives
the moments when, as an infant, the evil wizard Lord Voldemort killed
his parents, and tried to kill him. He hears the voice of his mother,
screaming and pleading, moments before Voldemort ended her life. At one
point, they cause him to fall from fifty feet in the air.
As in past books, Harry faces his fears head-on.
That's a recurring theme in Rowling's books - facing your fears and overcoming
them with determination and courage. Rowling also seems to encourage readers
to recognize petty bigotry, and not be small-minded and insular as all
bigots tend to be. And she emphasizes that everyone has faults and shortcomings.
Harry is not perfect. He's not a "perfect" student, he gets
into spats with his friends, he breaks rules, and he gets into trouble
here and there. He also doesn't understand everything that's going on
around him, and sometimes he makes mistakes. But the important thing seems
to be that he keeps trying, he keeps learning, and he wants to do the
However, Rowling's message is not the primary focus of the book - Harry's story
is. Her touch is not so heavy as to smother you with moral lessons. She
keeps her focus on the tale.
All in all, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN is
an enjoyable book.
This review copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.
Return to Story Time