Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Potter Hits the Road
Today I made a late morning trip out to the Chantilly Library in Fairfax County to catch the official Harry Potter tour bus, aka the Knight Bus, as it blasted through the area. If you've had your head under a rock the past year you may not know that the 7th volume in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, hits bookstores and libraries in the U.S. on July 21. The tour bus is making the rounds across the country to whip readers into an even more violent frenzy as the last days, hours, minutes and seconds count away until the final volume of Harry Potter comes out.
More than a purple bus with advertisements blazing on the sides, the inside of the vehicle features a small studio so readers can record a video message (sorry, they didn't allow photos inside the bus) giving readers the chance to tell whatever they like about our beloved Harry. Videos range from theories on what will happen in the last book to what they've all loved so much about the series since it first came out. To view the videos, you can visit the official site set up by Scholastic Books.
To the library's credit, they had things really organized. People had to register ahead of time and they told people not to come too much before their time. When the parking lot filled up they used the high school across the street as an overflow. For people who were there early, they had activities to pass the time. Fun stuff like making magic wands and Harry Potter glasses out of pipe cleaner. They also had a stack of other fantasy books fans of Potter might like, cool stuff by writers like Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper and John Bellairs. Oh yeah: there was also a live owl, kindly brought in by the Virginia Raptor Society.
I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan. I've read the first two books and enjoyed them. I've seen all the movies and liked them. But I don't get all crazed like some folks do---two people I work with are taking time off right after it comes out so they can do nothing but read it. The only way I understand it is to remember how I felt about Star Wars as kid. Particular between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Everyone....and I mean everyone...I knew had their theories about the cliffhanger ending when Vader claimed to be Luke's father. We all spent the years between talking, fighting and even making up plays to figure out the answer.
Even though I'm not a fan, I found myself getting caught up in it. With everyone in costume, both kids and adults, and everyone just generally having a good time talking about Harry it was hard not to succumb to the excitement. It's great to see a good group of people getting so worked up over a book. And a big book, too, if Rowling's past efforts are any indication.
Aside from hitting Chantilly, Va. the bus, or one like it, also made it to Arlington, Va Montgomery County, Md and Baltimore, Md. The bus will keep on rollin' up to the release date. For a list of all the stops, visit the official Knight Bus site.