One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated)
By J.K. Rowling, illustrations by Jim Kay
1997 (Original Publication) 2015 (Illustrated Edition)
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility. All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley–a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry–and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable.
I did a reread of Harry Potter books 4-7 last fall in preparation for some bar trivia contests (we got 2nd… twice), but I can’t remember the last time I picked up the earlier books in Harry’s saga. Once upon a time I devoured them over and over and over again, impatiently waiting for Goblet or Order of the Phoenix to be released. Now it seems I will be impatiently waiting again, and not just for the soon-to-be-released script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is being published this summer to coincide with the stage show’s opening in London.
No, now I also get to wait for more of these illustrated editions. Word is that the entire series will get the illustrated treatment, and I could not be more delighted. Jim Kay, the mastermind being the paintings within this first installment, does gorgeous work in both recreating popular scenes and in providing filler images to accentuate the story (the chessmen are a personal favorite). Last I read Kay is planning on doing all of the upcoming novels as well, and I am eager to see his interpretations of additional characters, creatures, and concepts within Rowling’s magical world.
If you are a newcomer to Harry Potter and have somehow avoided all books and movies up until this point, know that this book stands on its own without the illustrations, though it is quite clearly intended for younger readers. I have heard criticisms from adults who read this book for the first time assuming that the writing and themes would be for a grown-up audience. They were disappointed because frankly, you cannot have that expectation. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the opening adventure in the life of an eleven year old boy and his likewise aged friends, and the story is meant to be accessible for children of that same age.
One of the things that drew me to the series in my younger days was that I was that target audience age at the time of release. As the characters grew, so did I. This particular book is most appropriate for young readers, (and I’d imagine the pictures would make for awesome story time!) but they are just has fun for adults. I had as wonderful a time reading this book now as I did fifteen or so years ago. Additionally, to you adults reading these for the first time, the books grow in maturity as the characters age. The early stories can be read by pre-teen readers, but by the conclusion the themes are far darker and more grown up. Having recently read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the difference in tone between Harry at eleven and Harry at seventeen is remarkable.
It’s hard to say much more about this series, since it has now been a massive presence in our pop culture for nearly twenty years. If you’ve read these books already and would like to visit Harry’s world again, give this a read. It’s beautiful on top of being fun and absolutely brimming with nostalgia. If you are one of those seemingly rare non-reader flowers, get on this! Even if you’re an adult! It’s such a delightful, creative world wrapped into a quick, engrossing, and gorgeously illustrated volume. It should not be missed by any.
Summary from Goodreads