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Cannonball Read #20: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

01/26/2010

So eldest daughter and I tackled Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets recently, and we both enjoyed it, me for the umpteenth time, and her for the first time. She remembered seeing the movie when it got to cable and thought it was scary. We talked about how she could just close this book if it got to be too much. I have to remember to get her to make predictions as she goes along, as that gives a lot of insight into her reading experience.

Quick recap on this one – Harry Potter is in his second year at the wizarding school, Hogwarts. He must deal with a Defense of the Dark Arts teacher who’s a conceited nincompoop, a secret diary, the despicable Draco Malfoy, and oh yes, the mystery of a 50 year old secret chamber at the school.

This novel is still fairly innocent in tone. No one dies, no one unforgiveably betrays anyone. It’s of note that the basilisk tries to kill its prey, but they are all saved by not actually meeting the gaze of the snake as it tries to ensnare them. Later on in the series, beloved characters won’t be so lucky.

Darker themes are introduced, such as the prejudice against wizards born into non-magical families, and non-magical folks born into wizarding families. Harry is also conflicted by the fact that he can not only talk to snakes, but in the previous novel, the Sorting Hat wanted to put him into the Slytherin house. Harry begins to question who he is, and wonders if he is really like Voldemort after all. Dumbledore assures him at the end that though the Sorting Hat suggested Slytherin for him just like Voldemort, the difference between them is that Harry chose NOT to go into that house. Not to mention the fact that only a true member of Gryffindor could have used the sword found in the hat at the end (also a nice detail).

Chamber of Secrets is a great follow-up to Sorceror’s Stone, and it furthers Harry’s story along nicely. My daughter is still interested in the story, and we’re now about 2/3 of the way through Prisoner of Azkaban. I can’t wait to write that review!

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