‘Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Book 1, Sorcerer’s Stone’

Beginning tonight and continuing for seven weeks, God allowing, I will be giving free talks at Oklahoma City’s biggest independent bookstore, Full Circle Books, about each of the seven Harry Potter novels. The title of the first program, which I hope will be a template for the next six, is, as you read above, ‘Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Book 1, Sorcerer’s Stone.’ If you’re in the neighborhood, it will start at 7 pm and end at 8. If not, Mary is filming it for posting at iTunes someday.

If you’ve been hanging around this web site, of course, and have read one or more of my books, the ‘Ten Things You Didn’t Know’ may very well be the things you not only know very well but have shared with friends yourself. But I’m pretty sure that most of what I cover won’t be found in Steve Vander Ark’s Reader’s Guide to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or even Dr. Graeme Davis’ Re-Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Here are the ten points and a first chapter trivia quiz:

(1) Philosopher’s vs Sorcerer’s Stone

(2) Literary Alchemy

(3) Mirrored Names

(4) The “Obvious” Christian Content

(5) The Ring of Philosopher’s Stone

(6) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Link

(7) Stone and Deathly Hallows

(8) Stone and Goblet of Fire

(9) Stone and Order of the Phoenix

(10) Stone as Series Template

I hope you can make it! Here are the first chapter trivia questions I’ll be asking…

Chapter 1, ‘The Boy Who Lived’

What “dull, gray” day of the week is it when “our story starts” at 4 Privet Drive?

Leaving for work, Mr. Dursley sees a tabby cat on Privet Drive doing two things cats cannot do. What are these two things?

Mr. Dursley’s office is on what floor at Grunnings, his drill company?

True or False: Mr. Dursley at lunch on Tuesday is hugged by a wizard, he is called a Muggle, and he calls his wife when he overhears conversation about the Potters and their boy, Harry.

What is the name of the TV weatherman who reports that the owls are acting out of the ordinary?

What are the shapes of Albus Dumbledore’s and Minerva McGonagall’s eyeglasses?

How does Dumbledore put out the lights on Privet Drive?

What is Dumbledore’s explanation for Harry’s surviving Voldemort’s attack?

True or False: Professor McGonagall is convinced Dumbledore is wrong in leaving Harry with the Dursleys.

Hagrid arrives on Sirius Black’s motorcycle and reports that there were no problems retrieving Harry. The boy fell asleep as “we was flyin’ over” what English town?

For Your Reflection:

The very first chapter of the seven book series introduces the great divide in Harry’s world, the chasm separating Wizards and Muggles. It does this by sharing the views of Vernon Dursley, archetypal Muggle, and both Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore, witch and wizard, about the other side. Infant Harry at chapter’s end crosses this canyon to live with his Aunt and Uncle. Given what we learn in the chapter about the Dursleys, is Dumbledore’s decision a good one?

Answers Tomorrow!


  1. I missed a few on the trivia questions – I guess I never cared which floor Vernon was on. And I know it’s an inside kind of joke about the weatherman’s name, but I always forget it – another thing I didn’t care about, I guess. The rest I did pretty well.

    It’s really hard to say whether Dumbledore’s decision was a good one. Certainly not for Harry until he was 11, and even after that he had some miserable summers with the Dursleys. But that particular decision did keep him alive and seemed to provide a safer way to ensure Harry’s survival. Protecting him with magic that Voldemort didn’t understand or value probably added to Harry’s safety.

    But was that a good place for Harry to be? Hardly. It’s a wonder he didn’t turn out to be a serial killer after living with the abuse that he suffered from Dudley and from Uncle Vernon, not to mention the complete lack of love shown to him by Aunt Petunia. Those are the kinds of things that seem to be cited when a sociopath ends up accused of some dire crime. Harry, however, is really the opposite. He doesn’t fight back; he’s not anti-social, though he is cautious about his friendships and about sharing his thoughts; he’s loving and knows that he wants a loving family. And no thanks to the Dursleys, he is able to fit into a loving family and makes some very loyal friends in Ron, Hermione and Neville and Luna.

    He chooses the misfits, probably because he’s a misfit, or has been made to feel that he is one. Yet the ones he chooses are all people who have honest intentions and high morals.

    Rowling could have had him get to that point with a little less abuse than he suffered at the hands of the Dursleys (and Aunt Marge), but then what would have been the fun in not having such a success story from such a dismal beginning.

  2. I guess 8 months is too long to go without re-reading these books. I did not do very well at all on that quiz. But I’m determined to wait until I finish Darke Hierogliphicks before I pick them up again… Guess I’d better get to reading that book soon, so I can do better on this detail-oriented quiz.

  3. PotterFan just saying says

    Well, I realized that they focused on all the things we readers tend to overlook. Things that don’t seem important. I realized that the desicion of leaving Harry at the Dursley’s was probably not the idea but on the whole it was best at the moment. Even over all the fact that he did leave him there in the muggle world left Harry with this sense of right and wrong.
    Harry grew with not having much; it made everything Harry cared for be much more treasured if he hadn’t grown up the way he did. It didn’t let things go to his head about his fame. Nor did it made him prejudice against muggles or blood traitors. So on the whole it was a good desicion on Dumbledore’s part to let Harry stay at the Dursley’s.
    The start of the chapter by shhowing us the different views of all of them, made us as readers know the difference on what is “muggle” and what is “magical.” The whole chapter is basically showing us that maybe things could have been different for us as “muggles” if we had the “magical” advantage. It seems that what we value of importance is what defines us, for Vernon his family and how the neighbors view him, for Dumbledore it is about the over all goodness, and for Hagrid it is about how much he can help others. I may be wrong since these are my opinions. Well isn’t that what English is all about, what a verse might meanto me might be different to someone else? No matter the first chapter still makes us want to dive in to this amazing Harry Potter world.

  4. Answers: 1.Tuesday (p.2) 2. Reading a map, reading a street sign (pp 2-3) 3. 9th (p.3) 4. False; he begins dialing but doesn’t call Petunia (pp 4-5) 5. Jim McGuffin (p.6) 6. Dumbledore’s are Half-moon; McGonagall’s are square (pp 8-9) 7. Put-outer or Deluminator (p 9) 8. “We can only guess,” said Dumbledore, “We may never know.” (p 12) 9. False; “Yes, yes, you’re right, of course.” (p 14) 10. Bristol (p 15)

    Great night at Full Circle! See you next week for Chamber of Secrets!

  5. The tabby cat was reading a map and reading a sign.
    In the first T or F, it was false. He didn’t call Petunia.
    The weatherman’s name is Ted, I think.
    Albus’ glasses are half-moon, but I forgot Minerva’s.
    He used the Put-Outer to put out the lamp lights.
    I’m not sure about it, but it was something on the lines of, “All we can do is guess, Professor, we may never know.” Or something like that.
    On the second T or F, it’s false. At first, she’s convinced he was wrong, then later she agreed with what he thought.

    I’m not sure, but I think Albus’ decision is both wrong and right. Wrong because Harry suffered much abuse and right because if Harry stayed in the Wizarding world, he’ll be arrogant and gloating and scared of Voldemort.

  6. The only decision DD could have made was to leave Harry with his only relative. And he was planning to cast a charm to protect him which was based on Lily’s sacrifice and the protection that now existed in his very blood. He had decided to trust in her blood…Petunia. The charm was sealed when she took him in. Remember, he would hardly have imagined the Dursleys would treat Harry so badly.
    At the end of the day, I believe Harry was also protected against their cruelty by being loved so deeply for the first 15 months of his life. DD tells Harry this later. He tells him it is a protection that can never be taken away. So even though Harry is probably damaged and scarred by his childhood, he is capable of love. Also he has never been the center of anyone’s universe and comes to Hogwarts with modesty and humility, both qualities that shape his destiny.

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