Potter weaves his spell

Wizards and witches descended Friday night upon the Burbank Barnes & Noble Bookstore for the release party of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the highly anticipated finale of the Harry Potter series.

Although the people in line waiting for reserved or standby copies of the book numbered close to 1,000, most of them were dressed in plain street clothes.

The line was dotted with a few adults and children wearing wizard gear, complete with wands and broomsticks. Snaking around the building and up a stairway to the parking lot, those waiting for their copy of the seventh book about an imperiled boy who practices magic were a wide range of ages.

Glendale resident Kristin Donner, 31, had read every book in the series and was wearing the costume of a wizardry student from Hogwarts, the school where the main characters in the book hone their magic skills.

"This is from Halloween a couple of years ago," Donner said. She was dressed as a student of Gryffindor, Harry Potter's magical fraternity house at the school and the official good guys of the books.

"It's been recycled twice recently," she said, fanning out her black cowl a bit to reveal stockings and a gray schoolgirl skirt. "I went to the movie."

She's also read all the books and listened to all the audio books, but as much as she said she craves the series, news of leaked chapters of the final book to the Internet did not tempt her. She said she's made a point to stay away from the Web altogether.

Unlike the millions of fans who have publicly cried out against the end of the Potter books, Donner said she would be satisfied to see them go.

"I think it's good," she said. "Because I think it's a real tragedy when authors or producers draw out a series too long and the characters really suffer."

Still, younger fans of the book like Olivia Carlson, 10, and Skyler Wahl, 11, both of Los Angeles, said they were not ready to let Harry out of their lives.

Dressed head to toe in a homemade Quidditch uniform, Skyler wore proudly the robes of the broom-riding athletes in the world of Harry Potter.

She carried an old-fashioned broom and spoke in a British accent to sound more like the characters.

"I'm really sad," she said, but would not comment further. Instead, she and Olivia began a debate about who they thought would die in the final book, as the novels' author, J.K. Rowling, has hinted that a main character may meet their demise in "Deathly Hallows."

"I think it's going to be Voldemort," Olivia said, referring to the major villain of the books.

"And maybe Neville or one of the Weasley twins."

Throughout the evening, the store offered trivia games, snacks and interactive games themed to the Potter novels. While fans waited for midnight when the books would be released to their new owners, people roamed the store looking to kill time.

"My wand," Asher Gilbert, 6, of Glendale, said to his father, Ernie Gilbert, commanding him to hand over a wooden stick carved into a wizard's tool.

"Our youngest wizard," Gilbert said. He has three sons, all hooked on the Potter series.

He started reading the books to his oldest boy when they first came out in the United States nine years ago.

"That's when I got hooked on them, and that's what started me reading for pleasure for the first time," he said. "The first time in a long time."

  • RACHEL KANE covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3205 or by e-mail at rachel.kanelatimes.com.
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