Author: Sharmini Pillay
On 26 June 1997, a skinny boy with untidy hair, green eyes and a lightning-bolt scar was introduced to the world. Who would have thought that 20 years later, Professor McGonagall’s words would ring true?
“Every child in our world will know his name.”
This month marks the 20th anniversary of a story that truly shaped a generation and the Potter fandom is rallying to celebrate the occasion.
The Pottermore website has created a wonderful platform for Potterheads to come together and share their love for the story. They have launched the Wizarding World Book Club which will host weekly discussions about the themes in the Harry Potter books. The discussions will take place on Twitter (via @wwbookclub) and everyone is welcome to sign up and join the conversation. The themes and discussions will go in the order of the books so that fans are able to reread the books together over the next few months. It’s been 20 years and this book is still doing what it does best, bringing people together. Has there ever been a fandom with more love and unity?
Image sourced from Pottermore.com
To start the celebration of 20 years of my favourite story, I have listed 5 moments that meant the most to me from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:
1. A big guy and a pink umbrella.
When Hagrid came to rescue Harry from the Dursleys while they were staying in the shack on the rock out at sea, Mr. Dursley had a few harsh words about everyone’s favourite headmaster. Hagrid was furious and waved his pink umbrella over his head and angrily THUNDERED, “Never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me!” Hagrid gave Dudley a pig’s tail because of that insult and I thought it was a brilliant way to introduce the majesty of Albus Dumbledore to Harry. Harry had no idea who Dumbledore was but he did know that a huge, giant of a man respected Dumbledore enough to defend his honour. Deeper meaning aside though, the mental picture of a huge, hairy, half-giant swinging a pink umbrella over his head while shouting is pretty awesome!
2. The heir of Gryffindor?
Ollivander’s wand shop was a really fascinating scene to read. Harry got his wand which is as important as your identity in the wizarding world and Mr. Ollivander himself was an intriguing character. He didn’t fawn over Harry and he was the first person who spoke about Voldemort as a human, not as the Boogeyman. My favourite part was the moment Harry tried out his wand. Red and gold sparks shot out from the end of the wand and this ignited my favourite theory that Harry was the heir of Godric Gryffindor. I haven’t yet come across anything to outright disprove that theory so I’m going to believe it forever.
Image sourced from Warner Bros.
3. Sometimes, all you need to do is try.
Harry’s first quidditch match was really exhilarating. We got to see how dangerous and exciting wizard sports can be and we got a taste for the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry. I loved how the game ended. Harry’s fame had Gryffindor pride flying high and he was under a lot of pressure to do well for his house… and he did… by mistake! Harry lost his balance and fell and accidentally swallowed the snitch. But hey, winning is winning! To me, it symbolised how Harry would triumph over the other challenges in his life. He was an ordinary boy who chose to be brave and it was often circumstances outside of his control which led to his success. The most important thing was that he was always willing to take the risk and go after what he wanted.
4. Love really is the most important thing.
Harry saw his family for the very first time in the Mirror of Erised when he was 11 years old. This story is so action-packed, filled with mystery and humour and amazing magic. I often forgot just how difficult Harry’s childhood was. He had no idea about who he was, who his family was or his history. He just had the Dursley’s negativity. This was one of those moments that made me just stop and really feel sympathy for this little boy who needed love and family in his life. I think the biggest triumph of this story is that Harry got exactly those things.
Image sourced from Pottermore.com
5. Never underestimate children!
Harry’s adventure to get the Philosopher’s Stone was an eye-opener to the great things magic could do. Together with Ron and Hermione, he had to face a gauntlet of challenges made by his very teachers. Bear in mind that these challenges were designed to keep the great and powerful Voldemort away from the Stone so they weren’t exactly easy. I love that the combined knowledge and bravery of three 11 year olds was a match for the Hogwarts professors. Hermione’s logic was enough to outsmart Snape’s potion challenge and Ron was able to beat Her Majesty Minerva McGonagall (my Queen!) at chess since she was the one who designed that challenge. I’ll say it again… Never underestimate children!
What were your most memorable moments from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Will you be joining in the conversation with the Wizarding World Book Club? I hope to chat with you during the Twitter discussions.
Side Note: I wrote this post while listening to some awesome Wizard Rock, just to put me in the zone. For the Potterheads who haven’t heard any Wizard Rock yet, it’s basically a genre of rock music with songs based on Harry Potter and other characters of the Wizarding World. It’s funny, quirky, and sometimes, really uplifting. There are many Wizard Rock bands out there, the most famous being Harry and the Potters. They sing my personal favourite, We’ve Got To Save Ginny Weasley From The Basilisk. A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of songs on the web. Hope you enjoy!
Author: Sharmini Pillay