Harry Potter and the Commemorative Ornaments

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at my house, given that we typically put our tree and other decorations up right after Thanksgiving. And yes, the Boy Who Lived has a place in my holiday decor.

Several years ago, after it was clear that Harry and friends would be a long term part of my personal and professional life, my mom began giving me Hallmark Harry Potter ornaments. Hallmark has been releasing these annually since 2000, and Mom has thus far managed to track down most on Ebay.  Harry-themed ornaments were not something I would ever have thought of getting for myself, but now that I have them, I love putting them up every Christmas.  When it became clear that they would all get lost in the eclectic jumble that is my family’s normal Christmas tree, I got them their own wrought-iron table-top version.  I thought I would devote this post to sharing a few favorites.

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Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter! Announcing a new podcast!

Dear Hogwarts Professor readers:

Happy Anniversary! It’s been 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And it seems it’s been almost that long since the last gripping, academic discussion of Harry Potter by your favorite Potter pundits on the podcast Mugglenet Academia (RIP). But never fear! A new forum for over-educated Potter nerdiness is on its way! The new podcast, Reading, Writing, Rowling, hopes to match and even one day surpass Academia in both erudition and geekiness. How could it not, with Katy McDaniel and John Granger at the helm? We hope you enjoy this teaser trailer for the new production.

Mischief definitely NOT managed!

Two Pieces of ‘Carve the Mark’ News

Carve the MarkThe first and most exciting for me personally is… drum roll please…. my copy arrived today! I’ll probably start reading tomorrow.

The second bit of interesting news came from this interview Ms Roth did with NPR.  Two tidbits I found of particular note: 1) Cyra did not start out as a major character in the book and 2) the character and her “currentgift” were inspired by some acquaintances of Ms Roth who are chronic pain patients. Chronic pain is a problem often addressed by psychologists along with physicians, so I am hopeful we will see some more of Ms. Roth’s fascination with psychology shine through in the series. In the NPR interview, she states that a person’s “personality is like a mold that shapes how it comes out”–  “it” being the gift-giving “current” that seems to the the “force” of Ms. Roth’s new world.  Could there be more personality psychology showing up in the new series?  We’ll know soon enough.  I hope there are plenty of Hogpro regulars reading along.

You can also view this CBS clip to hear Ms. Roth talk about reading Harry Potter in the shower.

A look at the Carve the Mark sneak peaks: prose, photos and artwork

preprderVeronica Roth engages with her readers through a variety of social media outlets, notably Twitter, Instagram and Tumblir. With a scant two weeks remaining until the release of her new book, Carve the Mark, she is clearly doing what she can to generate and maintain interest, including offering an bonus epilogue to the Divergent series for those who pre-order. And yes, that particular bit of marketing strategy worked very nicely on me–not that I wouldn’t have ordered the book anyway.

In addition to releasing a preview chapter, Ms. Roth has been sharing regular “teasers:” sentences from Carve the Mark she has been releasing weekly, along with a photograph or painting, at least some of which her mother assisted in preparing. I thought it would be fun to look through the ten teasers released so far, speculate about what they could mean for the new series and look for any possible echoes to the Divergent trilogy.  So, here are the ten teaser quotes, in the order they were released, and including the art.

ctm-opening1. The first was the opening line of Carve the Mark.

Hushflowers always bloomed when the night was longest. The whole city celebrated the day the bundle of petals peeled apart into rich red– partly because hushflowers were their nation’s lifeblood and partly, Akos thought, to keep them all from going crazy in the cold.

As other previews have mentioned, plants apparently play a big role in this book. The red flower pictured above–presumably the hushflower–bears a strong resemblance to the red flowers featured in the book trailer.  A second plant, the “iceflower” is also mentioned as providing “lifeblood”–and given the opening trailer images of snowscapes interspersed with the fiery red flowers, and the red, black and white theme of the accompanying artwork, it is a possibility we could be looking at an alchemical organization, as Christine Wesley brilliantly deduced for Divergent. That would certainly be a nice Yuletide gift for John.

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Not all Fantastic Beasts are Fictional

hpspiderIt seems appropriate that this paper should be released at this season of renewed interest in JK Rowling’s magical creatures. A pair of Potter-loving scientists from India recently discovered a new species of spider, and, upon noticing its resemblance to the Sorting Hat, named it Eriovixia gryffindori. Even better, they provided a explanation of the name in the scientific paper that described the beastie.

harry_potter_sorting_hat_by_boywizard94-d5ma8izThis uniquely shaped spider derives its name from the fabulous, sentient magical artifact, the sorting hat, owned by the (fictitious) medieval wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and stemming from the powerful imagination of Ms. J.K. Rowling, wordsmith extraordinaire, as presented in her beloved series of books, featuring everyone’s favorite boy-wizard, Harry Potter. An ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives.

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