Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling and Jim Kay

The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone written by JK Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay is, basically, a large-format, glossy, illustrated version of the first beloved Harry Potter book. Do I need to put a blurb in? Well, I wouldn't want to break the flow of my blog...

Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay's dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters in this full-colour illustrated hardback edition of the nation's favourite children's book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Brimming with rich detail and humour that perfectly complements J.K. Rowling's timeless classic, Jim Kay's glorious illustrations will captivate fans and new readers alike.

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

I enjoyed reading this edition with it's illustrations every few pages. It probably helped that there's been a few years' distance since my last read of the series but I found myself paying attention to small details that hadn't necessarily stuck in my mind. Or maybe it was a case of reading the words arranged differently on the larger pages.

The illustrations were nice and it was interesting to see that Kay did not stick to making the characters look like their actors. Keeping in mind that I'm not an art expert, I think a variety of media were used for different illustrations. As far as I could tell, there were water colours, pencil and, er, thicker paint. (Oil paint? I don't know. Can you tell I wasn't paying that much attention in art class?)

As well as illustrations of the actual story and characters, there were also a few pages that were excerpts from in-universe books. For example, a page showing different types of dragon eggs. There were also some lovely details in the art that weren't explicit in the text like the extra shops in Diagon Alley and Hagrid's keys, which certainly added to my enjoyment of the story. Right now, Bloomsbury's Harry Potter website has a lot of info about the new illustrated edition including some previews of the art. Have a look if you're on the fence about buying it.

Harry Potter is Harry Potter and if you haven't already read it, I can't imagine anything I could say would change that. If you're wondering whether to get this particular edition, then I would say probably yes. Y'know, depending on the factors going into your decision, like price (it isn't cheap). It strikes me that this would be a very nice edition to read to children as their first exposure of Harry Potter, especially if they're young. As far as I've managed to ascertain, Bloomsbury (and presumably the US publisher) are planning to release one volume a year so if you start now with 10–11 year olds, they can keep up being the same age as Harry and friends through to the end. (And more reliably so than when the books were originally coming out. I started off being the same age as the characters, but with longer delays between books that did not last, alas.) At any rate, I eagerly await the illustrated Chamber of Secrets coming next year.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: October 2015, Bloomsbury
Series: Harry Potter, book 1 of 7
Format read: Hardcover
Source: Online, non-Amazon-owned bookshop

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