Title confounds us Muggles

Washington Post

J.K. Rowling announced the title of the seventh and final book in the hugely popular Harry Potter series last week, but "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" might raise more questions than it answers.

"Oh, I think that's a really good name.... I'm guessing it's about [Godric's] Hollow, so that tells you a real place where the book is set," said Nicklaus Wilcher, 10, of Springfield, Va., referring to the place where the boy wizard's parents were killed.

Good guess, Nicklaus; but it's hallows (as in All Hallows Eve), not hollows.

He wasn't the only one confused by the name.

Asked about the title, Kristen Moran, a spokeswoman for Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of Potter books, said that people in her office had rushed to an unabridged dictionary. Hallows, she said, "means holy person or saint."

"But we really don't know what the title means," she admitted.

That is, perhaps, just how Rowling wants it. The book isn't finished, she said on www.jkrowling.com: "I'm now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more.... I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don't want, to finish this book (don't worry, I will)."

The publication date remains a mystery. But the titles of the two most recent books were announced in December, and the books hit store shelves with a multimillion-dollar frenzy the next summer.

Rumors on various Potter websites hint that the seventh book will be published on 7/7/07.

But whenever it comes out, look for it to be a huge moment for kids who have grown up with the young wizard and his adventures, said Dara La Porte, children's book manager at Politics & Prose, a bookstore in Washington.

"Readers think of these characters as people they've gone to school with, people who have been their friends for 10 years," she said.

The use of the word "deathly" in the title has readers wondering who won't survive book seven.

"I've known for a long time that Harry or Voldemort would die. But maybe Ron or Hermione will die," worried 10-year-old Sabrina Palilcchini, also of Springfield.

But her concern won't keep her from reading. "I can't wait," she said.

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