Couple of weeks ago I decided I would jump on the bandwagon that is the Harry Potter series. At first, I was going to start with the 3rd book, since I had seen the first two movie adaptations and I also knew that J.K. Rowling insisted that the movies follow the books closely. Why bother reading something I already knew? Erin convinced me otherwise, though I can't remember why. So I started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
You know the story. Harry Potter has been living with relatives for years. They treat him badly. He finds out he is a wizard and gets to go to the Hogwart's school of wizardry. In his first year he learns he's a wizard who defeated the infamous Voldemort as a mere baby. Voldemort has a new scheme from returning from a form of exile which Harry defeats in the this tome.
First and foremost, this is a children's story. Unforutnately, it's in a class of stories with which I am not really familiar. These seem to me to be geared more toward 8 to 10 year olds rather than the Newberry-esque young adult novels for which I have better recall and love. I think a better class of novels wherein to place Harry Potter is with Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew and F.W.Dixon's Hardy Boys series. I loved those series as a child, but I recall little. Those were mostly bubblegum, and I think Harry Potter also falls into this category.
I think Rowling does a great job of capturing the essence of junior high kid behavior though. Absent the world-shaking events that swirl around Harry, the children act like children. They aren't smart-alecky adults in children's bodies like much of what passes for children on television these days. Harry and his friends have more in common with the Huxtable kids than they do with shows on the W.B. Network. She's managed to create complex characters who are also children. With the exception of Draco Malfoy. Though I suppose from the perspective of her protagonist Harry it makes no difference, it seems that her portrayal of the foil is extremely one sided. I'd have loved to see him turn out to be just a normal kid, just in another clique, and therefore seemingly bad and evil. But only seemingly.
Leaving aside the question of whether one can add new classic children's literature to one's beloved books when one is well past the age of the intended audience, I don't think these would rate as classics in my world. They are fun reading, but just not me.
Also, I'm not going to review books two and three separately. I definitely think that Rowling's skills as a writer improved with those two successive books. So I hold out hope that they will indeed become classics, but at this point I'm only going to place them as decently well written children's stories.