My first experience of Harry Potter was in junior school. My cousin is a high school teacher and had heard about this great new children's book through her kids, read it herself and heartily recommended it to my mum, who then read it aloud to me and my sisters. It's weird to remember a time when 'every child in our world' didn't know Harry's name and couldn't even pronounce Hermione's (I can still remember a strained conversation with a girl in my class who insisted she was called 'Hermy-own') and I've no idea what number re-read this is for me. But I enjoyed this first book as ever. It doesn't grip me quite as it used to, as the plot is too familiar now, but that doesn't mean there's nothing new to get out of the story.
New thoughts this time:
So what struck me this time around? Mostly, how much I love Harry at eleven. Not that I don't like him at seventeen, but I'd forgotten just how lovely little Harry was. There's a bit in Deathly Hallows, I think, where he says that looking back to the boy in the cupboard was like remembering a younger brother he had lost, and I felt that on this re-read. I love that he's just as sassy as ever - more than I remembered in this one (yes, sassy is the word) but also kinder, very loyal and very vulnerable. The Mirror of Erised chapter got me this time around in a way it hasn't before. I teared up a bit at the thought of him going back to that mirror night after night, just to sit and look at the family he never had.
"How long he stood there, he didn't know. The reflections did not fade and he looked and looked until a distant noise brought him back to his senses. He couldn't stay here, he had to find his way back to bed. He tore his eyes away from his mother's face, whispered, 'I'll come back' and hurried from the room. "
One scene I really love in this one, is Ron's chess game. I think out of all the books, more even than saving Harry and killing the Horcrux in Deathly Hallows, this is Ron's big heroic moment. People underestimate Ron. He's not stupid (ever met a great Chess player who was?) he's brave and loyal and Harry wouldn't have nearly as good a time without him around. He never really gets his moment in the sun, but this is the closest. I also love Christmas. It's a proper childhood-classic-Christmas scene, up there with your Narnias and your Little Women.
Favourite Forgotten moment:
Neville taking on Crabbe and Goyle in a fist-fight in the stands at a Quidditch match!
"Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby Angel - Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig."
"'There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that.' Neville choked.
Harry felt in the pocket of his robes and pulled out a chocolate frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given him for Christmas. He gave it to Neville, who looked as if he might cry.
'You're worth twelve of Malfoy;' Harry said. '"
This one made me sad thinking about Percy's estranged years...
"'I - don't - want,' said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the jumper over his head, knocking his glasses askew.
'And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either,' said George. 'Christmas is a time for family.'
They frog-marched Percy from the room, his arms pinned to his sides by his jumper."
and the classic...
"'There are all kinds of courage,' said Dumbledore, smiling. 'It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.'"
Have you re-read the books recently? Anything new you noticed, or what are your favourite scenes?