Rowling Talks ‘Lumos’ and Her Mission to End Worldwide Child Institutionalization

J.K. Rowling, 2014

Earlier this week, J.K. Rowling published a powerful article in The Guardian regarding her charity, Lumos. Headlined, “Isn’t it time we left orphanages to fairytales?” Rowling begins her column by recounting the heart-wrenching image of an institutionalized boy she saw in a newspaper ten years ago. Locked in a caged bed, the boy’s hands clutching at the wire surrounding him, the picture devastated her so much that she immediately began seeking a solution.

Founded in 2005, Lumos strives to shut down child institutions and “orphanages,” and help displaced children return to loving homes.

Through her research, Rowling learned that more than 8 million children worldwide are institutionalized, and the shocking fact that, in many cases, the children in these institutions have parents and family members who are still living. The main reason that children fall into these places is because their parents are unable or unwilling to take care of them. Growing up in these kinds of deplorable conditions has been proven to have a drastic, negative affect on the quality of life, education, and overall humanity of these children. Malnutrition, failure to thrive, abuse, trafficking, and even death are all common outcomes of child institutions. Rowling knew that she had to do something to put an end to the suffering of these children.

Related: J.K. Rowling’s Lumos charity launches campaign, #LetsTalkLumos

Named after the Harry Potter spell that produces light in dark places, Lumos has moved swiftly through Europe to bring hope to these children. Efforts in Moldova (Europe’s poorest nation), the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria have seen extraordinarily significant decreases in new admissions to institutions, as well as a vast increase of caregivers and foster care, providing much-needed loving family environments. If this kind of success keeps growing, the institutionalization of children can be globally eradicated by the year 2050.

In order to end child institutionalization for good, Lumos needs us all to keep the issue alive and create awareness in our own parts of the world. Last month, the charity and J.K. Rowling launched #letstalklumosa social media campaign that was created for the very purpose of keeping the issue fresh in the world’s mind. Just because we may not see what goes on in some corners of the world does not mean that it can be pushed under the rug, into the dark. Rowling ends with these simple, yet impactful words: “I recently committed to becoming president of Lumos for life. It is my dream that, within my lifetime, the very concept of taking a child away from its family and locking it away will seem to belong to a cruel, fictional world.”

Donate to Lumos’s campaign here to help children with disabilities go to school.

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Dark Arts Attraction Opens at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

On Tuesday of last week, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London celebrated Halloween a couple weeks early by opening its newest Dark Arts addition to The Making of Harry Potter. Included in the new attraction is The Malfoy Manor, Borgin & Burkes, and Dolores Umbridge’s office.

The Malfoy Manor dining room

The dining hall of Malfoy Manor, which was built to replicate the beginning meeting scene of Deathly Hallows: Part 1, has horrifyingly lifelike elements. A grand fireplace serves as the backdrop for mannequins of each Death Eater in full costume, who are seated in their exact meeting locations. Terrifying as they may be, the truly hair-raising site is the lifeless body of Hogwarts Muggle Studies professor Charity Burbage dangling in midair as a huge and hungry Nagini slithers across the table to have her for dinner. Nagini, originally made from latex, has gotten a revamp in design, now handmade from urethane skin and foam (material found in couch cushions), which is much heartier and easier to form, not to mention gives the snake a much scarier appearance.

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Nagini

Next on the tour is the same place at which Harry accidentally arrived while trying to reach Diagon Alley in Chamber of Secrets–Borgin & Burkes, the dark magic shop located in Knockturn Alley. Cases of skulls and other skeletal creatures stare out from behind their cases, and the Hand of Glory rests patiently on a shelf, waiting for some unlucky person to reach out and grasp it. A replica of the Iron Maiden that Harry hid in during a deleted scene from Chamber of Secrets is also present among these ghoulish trinkets. Safe to say, this is a not a place where many people would like to browse and window shop.

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Borgin & Burkes

Finally on the journey is a slightly different kind of wretched place–Dolores Umbridge’s ghastly, pink office from her time teaching at (and terrorizing) Hogwarts. The office set was relocated to the Dark Arts section to be in a more, ahem, fitting place. Portraits and china plates of dolled-up kittens decorate the pink walls, and, if anyone dares venture closer to the desk, they may find a blood quill or two resting menacingly on the surface.

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Dolores Umbridge’s office

Also creatively displayed in the Dark Arts exhibit are artifacts from throughout the books and movies such as the horcruxes used to store pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and the basilisk fang used to destroy one such horcrux–Tom Riddle’s diary.

It’s tough to say which element of the Dark Arts section seems the most creepy, so you’ll have to go see for yourself. Tickets to The Making of Harry Potter are available now, so get yours today and be one of the first to see this eerie addition. Then, report back to us of what you think!

Images courtesy of Pottermore.com

A Magical Weekend at the Chestertown Harry Potter Festival

CHPFA while ago, I heard about a two-day Harry Potter festival in Chestertown, MD and automatically made the decision to make the journey there. Upon arriving, my first stop was the Garfield Theatre, which had been turned into Hogwarts for the day, to retrieve the festival map and scavenger hunt information. Ladies dressed in witch garb sat outside, brewing potions and setting up photo opportunities with a Hogwarts castle tapestry and a cutout of Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia after it crashed into the Whomping Willow.

Next, I began to venture up and down the streets of this small town in search of finding the missing items that were needed to complete the scavenger hunt. Along the way, I saw many businesses that had their usual signs replaced with the signage of  Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, and Hogsmeade Harry Potter shops. Not only were the storefronts transformed, the shop owners and workers also joined in and dressed in their best witch and wizard garb. One of the banks was converted into Honeydukes sweet shop, complete with Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Candy Floss, and Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum. A bed and breakfast became the Three Broomsticks and a local pub turned into the Leaky Cauldron–complete with a “Goblet of Fire” menu of Harry Potter inspired beverages. There was Flourish & Blotts, Professor Sprout’s Greenhouse, Madam Malkin’s, Weasley Wizard Wheezes, and–for those who dared enter–Borgin & Burkes. One of my favorites was the town drug store, which became Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, where a participant whipped me up a delicious butterbeer.

After marveling at the town’s tremendous efforts to bring the magical world of Harry Potter to life and completing the scavenger hunt, the final stop was to the town’s Fountain Park to check out the Harry Potter merchandise vendors, the musical entertainment–rockin’ bands called the Nargeleptics and Blibbering Humdingers–the dueling club that had formed, and the station where you could make your own broom and take it down to the square to join exciting games of Quidditch that had formed.

The turnout for this event was phenomenal. Families came from as far as Minnesota and Montana to check out the wonders that tiny Chestertown had to offer and to feed their Harry Potter appetites. The best part was seeing the next generation of Potter fans fully decked out in wizardwear and having just as good of a time as their parents. One mom, dressed as Tonks with purple hair, carried her small daughter who was wearing a tea cozy and elf ears to be Dobby. This event was truly fun for all ages, and I hope that it will continue for many years in the future! The Chestertown Festival is an annual event, so check out http://www.chestertownhpfest.org/ for any and all information regarding this year’s and next year’s festivals. Also, check out my photo gallery below!

We’d love to hear from you if you also attended this festival! Please leave your comments below.

Image courtesy of Chestertown Harry Potter Festival Facebook page

 

Bloomsbury Releases the Final Four New ‘Harry Potter’ Book Covers

Over the past few months, Bloomsbury Press has teased Harry Potter fans with the release of the new cover art for the first three novels one at a time. Today, however, Bloomsbury decided to end the wait and unveiled the new cover for Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows.

About a year ago, Bloomsbury Children’s Books began the task of reinventing the hardback and paperback editions of the Harry Potter series to a fresh, new reading experience for the next generation of young readers. To undertake this once in a lifetime opportunity, Bloomsbury brought award-winning artist Jonny Duddle on board to lead the new cover art design efforts. As well as sparkling new covers, all of the novels will also feature an updated biography of J.K. Rowling.

Click to see the covers of the books that have been revealed: Philosopher’s Stone Chamber of Secrets | Prisoner of Azkaban

The Goblet of Fire cover again features the elusive golden egg that was crucial in order to move on to the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, but it now depicts Harry’s efforts on his broomstick to obtain the egg from the terrifying Hungarian Horntail dragon.

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Order of the Phoenix sees Harry flying high again on its cover, but this time he is on the back of a thestral—a creature that can only be seen by those who have seen death—on his way to the Ministry of Magic in London.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry and Dumbledore are seen together as they were on the original Half-Blood Prince cover, but this time they are in a much more precarious position than viewing memories in a pensieve. We see bright flames surrounding them as they are being attacked by inferi—corpses re-animated by magic—while looking for Voldemort’s locket horcrux in the cave.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Finally, while the original Deathly Hallows cover shows a very pivotal moment towards the end of the story, the new version depicts another critical moment from ‘The Forest Again’ as Harry approaches Voldemort and seemingly awaits his impending death.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

All seven of the covers show a great vibrancy and life through color and design, and bring the books to life in an entirely new way.

Come September 1, 2014, the wait will be over to have these seven novels and eBook editions for your very own! Stay tuned to Pottermore News for more updates.

Tell us below: What do you think of the new cover art? Which is your favorite—the original or the new cover art?

Images courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing.

Behind the Bricks: A Tour of Diagon Alley with Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis

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Unlike their ‘Harry Potter’ characters Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy, Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton are great friends in real life. Here they are spotted at the New York premiere of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Today, Harry Potter film stars Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton took us on a tour, via live webcast, of the new addition of Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They began by entering through the brick passageway to Diagon Alley, and were soon joined by Alan Gilmore, Art Director of the Harry Potter Films & The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Alan revealed that he has been on the Wizarding World project for four years, and that he enjoys every minute of it.

The first stop on the tour was for Tom to exchange his Muggle currency for a Gringotts bank note that is redeemable at many Wizarding World establishments. Next, Matthew decides to head to Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment while Alan takes Tom to a show. The show turns out to be an amazing puppet reenactment of “The Tale of the Three Brothers” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.

We then find Matthew preparing to send a letter and stamping it with a Gryffindor seal. He explains that, in Wiseacre’s, you can stamp letters with a variety of colors of sealing wax and with the Hogwarts house seal of your choosing.

Cut back to Tom and Alan at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Tom and Alan are about to try some delicious butterbeer ice cream just as Matthew meets up with them and samples some as well.

Tom then announces, “I’m gonna go somewhere where I feel slightly more comfortable…down to Knockturn Alley!” Matthew and Alan decide to forego the dark arts experience and journey to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Matthew admires the establishment, saying, “This is absolutely spectacular!” He also says to Alan, in reference of the Weasley twin feature outside of the shop, “I’ve got to ask a question, before we go any further…is it Fred or George?” Alan says he thinks it’s Fred because of the way he stands and the way he holds his hat. Matthew says that it’s been a constant debate between James and Oliver Phelps and Alan tells Matthew to have them practice the moves so he can determine exactly who it is.

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The entrance to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Tom meets up with the two just in time to head into the Weasley’s store. Just like his character Draco Malfoy, he got the chance to go to Borgin and Burkes and witness the Hand of Glory. Inside of the Weasley joke shop, we get to see extendable ears, chattering teeth, and pygmy puffs. Tom picks out a special pink pygmy puff keychain for Matthew, and Matthew returns the favor by selecting a Dark Mark lollipop for Tom! Tom says, “Would you lick my Dark Mark lollipop?” and Matthew laughingly replies, “No, I’m alright.” Alan takes them over to the infamous Skiving Snackbox section where they find U-No-Poo and Puking Pastille treats.

“This has just been a brilliant journey—turning the films into reality,” exclaims Alan. He reveals that they actually feature many of the original Harry Potter movie props and details at the Wizarding World!

Next, the trio witness the dragon on top of Gringotts Bank breathing fire. Matthew excitedly says, “It’s looks absolutely spot-on from the film!” They go into Gringotts, and see the statue of the original Gringotts goblin in the plaza in front of the bank. The magnificent chandelier—with 17,000 crystals—and extremely lifelike goblins greet them, just as they would have in the films! Matthew and Tom, of course, already have Gringotts bank accounts. The three decide to have a go on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride to end their adventure, and bid us a fond farewell!

Check back with Pottermore News frequently in the next few weeks for any and all details about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley grand opening on July 8, 2014!

Images courtesy of Canada.com and Inside the Magic.

All Aboard: A Journey on the Hogwarts Express with Oliver and James Phelps

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James and Oliver Phelps and Bonnie Wright take a selfie with the Hogwarts Express

Earlier this afternoon, following the exciting events of last night’s red carpet event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Oliver and James Phelps hosted a live webcast of their journey aboard the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station to Platform 9 ¾. Before boarding the train, they point out that every single block at King’s Cross Station was made by hand to make them look as realistic as possible!

We then cut to Bonnie Wright and Domhnall Gleeson who are waiting for the Phelps twins. Bonnie says impatiently, “I really want some ice cream!” and Domhnall looks at his watch and says, “Typical.”

Back on the train, the twins spot Hagrid out of the window and give him a friendly wave. While walking down the corridor to their compartment, one says, “Anything from the trolley, dears?” in a high-pitched, girlish voice. Like their characters, Fred and George Weasley, James and Oliver Phelps are true jokesters in real life.

At their seats, the twins reveal another fun fact about the Hogwarts Express: the fabric for the compartment sets was shipped from UK from the same fabric manufacturers that made the fabric for the train seats in the movies. Like the bricks at King’s Cross Station, the seats were designed to be as realistic as possible. The designers also went over to the UK to ride a train through the English countryside so they could simulate the actual experience for the Wizarding World.

Some centaurs are seen out of the window, bounding through the Forbidden Forest as the twins continue their journey. Then, the twins have a double, double take as they see themselves flying on broomsticks outside of the train window! Their digital doubles throw some of their special fireworks into the air, and they reveal the message, “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes Now in Diagon Alley.”

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Digital Fred and George Weasley flying outside of the Hogwarts Express window getting ready to put on a spectacular fireworks display!

Next, the journey takes the twins past the gloomy Malfoy Manor. The trip actual simulates the exact route that the Hogwarts Express would take through the English countryside. As the train gets close to Platform 9 ¾, we see the Knight Bus carefully squeezing out of a narrow alleyway in between two buildings. One of the twins jokingly says, “Driving just like my brother.”

James and Oliver finally arrive at the platform and greet Bonnie and Domhnall, who decide to go off to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Before the twins join them, they run into Matthew Lewis who seems to be a little confused and under the impression that his webcast with Tom Felton is scheduled today, not tomorrow. The twins alert him of his mistake and Matthew says, “Saving the best for last, I understand how this is working.”

The twins bid us farewell as their journey ends. Finally, a special message, “Boarding Begins July 8th,” appears for all of the excited fans!

Make sure to visit Pottermore News again tomorrow afternoon for our report on Matthew Lewis’s and Tom Felton’s webcast that will chronicle their tour of Diagon Alley!

Images courtesy of MyNews13 and Hypable.

J.K. Rowling Joins BBC Radio 4 as First Guest Editor on the Women’s Hour Takeover

via GuardianEarlier today, across the pond, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling sat down with BBC 4 Radio’s Jane Garvey as the first Guest Editor for the Women’s Hour Takeover program to discuss topics that are very important in her daily life.

Listen to J.K. Rowling’s guest edit here

Rowling began with story of her mother, Anne Rowling, who was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 35. MS affects roughly 100,000 people in the UK, with Scotland having the highest instance in the world, and women three times as more likely to develop the disease as men. She recounts that having a chronic illness in the family does change the dynamic, but remembers her mother fondly as she was at her happiest and also expresses some regret that her mother never knew about the world of Harry Potter before she passed away. “My mother was a passionate reader,” Rowling lovingly tells. “She would have been excited whatever I did, if I succeeded at anything, but particularly to be a writer—she would have considered to be a very valuable thing.” In Anne’s memory, Rowling has worked with the University of Edinburgh to found the Anne Rowling Clinic, which hosts research and continues to make great strides in the field of neural regeneration.

Next, Rowling raves about her love for the Scottish rugby team. Apparently wizards all over support this sport, as was evident during the 2014 Six Nations Rugby Championships when Rowling tweeted, “Wizards worldwide support the Scottish rugby team. It’s an old, magical tradition.” Women’s and girl’s rugby teams are growing each day in Scotland, and have found great acceptance with the already-present men’s teams.

Moving back into a more serious topic, Rowling begins to discuss the disturbing situation of European children living in care institutions. The shocking fact is that 4 out of 5 of these children actually have one or both living parents, but the parents are unable to support and care for them. Many of the children in these institutions have mental disabilities and are not given the needed care for their conditions. Rowling, on the verge of tears, recalls a time that she visited one of these institutions and three children with cerebral palsy were resorted to lying on a bed, side-by-side, instead of being given proper treatment. Knowing firsthand about the harsh conditions and lives that these children face, Rowling founded her charity ‘Lumos’ to work with the government to help remove these children from derelict situations and place them back into loving and healthy care. She said, “I want to use my power for good, not for evil…You can change lives just by writing a letter, so I would encourage people to get involved and do what they can.” More about ‘Lumos’ can be found here.

Lastly, Rowling talks about her love for shoes! She has always been fascinated by the roles shoes play in various stories and fairytales, and what they represent to the readers. Many times, men’s shoes will represent power, strength, and brute force, while women’s shoes will represent delicateness and coming into womanhood. Rowling believes that women, in particular, love shoes so much because they have different shoes for different reasons, and each pair holds a bit of their personality.

To sum up her chat with advice she wishes someone would have told her in her earlier years, Rowling powerfully states, “It’s impossible to live without failing unless you live so cautiously that you never do anything, in which case you fail by default…Be who you are.”

Bloomsbury to Release New ‘Harry Potter’ Children’s Edition Novels

normal_Harry_Potter_Philosopher_s_Stone_Jonny_DuddleFollowing the recent announcement on publishing fully illustrated editions of the Harry Potter series, Bloomsbury announced yesterday they will be releasing revamped editions of the Harry Potter novels on September 1 with all new illustrations.

According to the press release, these new editions will be “reset to create a child-friendly reading experience for a new generation of readers,” but there was no explanation of what this could entail. However, we do know that they will feature completely redesigned front cover, back cover, and spine artwork and that all of the titles will contain highlights from Pottermore.

For the thrilling task of reinventing the world of Harry Potter for a new audience, Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling chose the award-winning Jonny Duddle.

On being selected, Duddle stated, “I’m hugely excited to work my way through the wonderful books. I couldn’t have asked for more enjoyable subject matter. It’s exciting, daunting, and I feel the weight of responsibility, and I’m just hoping that my illustrations faithfully reflect the characters and the world created by J.K. Rowling.” Duddle is known for such works as The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door picture books, which are winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Prize and shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, respectively, and his work has also appeared in Aardman films and Terry Pratchett novels.

Alongside the new hardback and softback Harry Potter novels, Pottermore will publish eBooks of all of the editions, with the new artwork, concurrently. Bloomsbury has also teamed up with Pottermore to show how much, much more can be discovered about the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling on Pottermore.com. This information will be available to readers in the back of the new Harry Potter children’s editions.

Stay tuned to Pottermore News for more exciting Harry Potter news after next month’s London Book Fair!

Tell us below: What do you think about this re-mastering of the Harry Potter series for a new generation? How do you think these new editions will compare to the seven novels we know and love?

Image courtesy of SnitchSeeker

Sarah Phelps announced as writer for ‘Casual Vacancy’ miniseries

J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy' hits stores September 27

J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ hit stores September 27, 2012

As we previously reported, J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, is being adapted for a BBC One television miniseries. On Monday, a screenwriter was announced for the project, and Sarah Phelps, who wrote scripts for BBC’s Great Expectations and Eastenders, will write The Casual Vacancy.

The BBC noted briefly of Phelps’ position in an announcement for another project she is working on, the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Partners in Crime.

SnitchSeeker reached out to BBC and Rowling’s reps and both teams confirmed it. According to SnitchSeeker, production for the miniseries will begin later this year, and the number of episodes as well as casting information will be released sometime in the near future.

Be sure to check back for updated information about this project!

J.K. Rowling Expresses Regret Pairing Ron and Hermione

Harry-Ron-and-Hermione-Wallpaper-harry-ron-and-hermione-25679369-1024-768Well, here’s a shocker for all you Romione fans and shippers: While being interviewed for Wonderland by Hermione Granger portrayer Emma Watson, J.K. Rowling admitted that she regrets pairing Ron and Hermione together at the end of the Harry Potter series.

Rowling actually stated that, logically, Hermione should have ended up with Harry, and that she only decided on the Ron/Hermione relationship “as a form of wish fulfillment.” From the very beginning, the plan was already set in place to have Ron and Hermione end up together, and Rowling could not tear herself away from clinging to that original plotline.

“I know, I’m sorry,” she said, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

Watson, who is a guest editor for Wonderland for the month of February, was not entirely surprised by this shocking admission, and confessed that she agrees with Rowling. “I think there are fans out there who know that too,” she said, “and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.” In an indirect response to Watson’s statement, Rowling did state that Ron and Hermione would have definitely needed some serious counseling in their relationship.

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If we consider that Hermione and Harry had been the pair who eventually wed, Rose and Hugo Weasley and James, Albus, and Lily Potter would be nonexistent–and Ron and Ginny would have married different spouses. Rowling also revealed that she “seriously considered” killing off Ron at one point, so if that had actually happened, we are again left to wonder where Hermione’s and Harry’s paths would have led them.

Tell us below: What are your thoughts on this latest admission from Rowling? Do you think Ron and Hermione, and Harry and Ginny belong together, or that Hermione and Harry should have been together at the end?

Images courtesy of FanPop! and Harry Potter Wiki