Recap of J.K. Rowling’s webcast

For the first time in years, J.K. Rowling is hosting a webcast to talk about the world of Harry Potter.

You can watch the webcast right here at the new Harry Potter Reading Club’s website. An education tool, the Harry Potter Reading Club provides educators with the resources they need to start a Harry Potter book club. These resources include discussion guides, monthly activities, and more. The webcast is part of the launch of the Club.

UPDATE: The webcast has ended but you will be able to watch a replay on the Harry Potter Reading Club’s website shortly. It will also be available for viewing next week on the Pottermore Insider.

Here are some of the highlights from the webcast:

  • On Edinburgh: Jo says some things in the books wouldn’t have happened without living in the town. Names and street names came out of the books. The town also has great coffee shops and is respectful of her privacy.
  • Jo got Gilderoy’s surname from a graveyard in Edinburgh
  • Jo says that she had several teachers over the years that encouraged her to write.
  • One of Jo’s favorite moments from the books was Luna’s appearance, the Graveyard scene in Goblet of Fire, and some small moments: “stupid jingles that Peeves says” were fun to do.
  • The second American tour Jo did was “unbelievable” – she can remember traveling in a car towards her first signing and there were blocks of people queuing. She thought a sale was going on, but they were actually in line for Jo.
  • The first sentence she wrote of Harry Potter had something to do with Dark’s Hollow, which became Godric’s Hollow. She says of the first sentence, “So you saw what happened in Godric’s Hollow very early in the series, unlike how it turned out, where you see the story at the end of the series” (paraphrasing)
  • She read from Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Diagon Alley. She wrote the passage under a tree in a park.
  • One of my favorite ever comments from a very early reader, in 1999, about 10 years old, he said to me: “Harry doesn’t often ever know what’s going on, and nor do I.” That reader was semi-joking, but he meant it at the same time. We all had the feeling of, ‘I’m not sure what’s going on.’ We all felt that at school.”
  • On Pottermore: “The initial idea was, it’s time. People were asking for eBooks. It felt like it was the right time to do it. Then I wanted it to be more than that, because as you say, the internet offers amazing possibilities. I saw it as a way to create an environment where you could see extra tidbits, we can go inside illustrations. It’s making a book – it’s putting a book in that world. It’s still a reading experience – you still need to be able to read the books. But I was excited that we could put a really good reading experience online. I think it’s important to say that this is completely free. But the REALLY exciting thing for me – again, for free – is I had a way to put extra material online. It was a way of making sure any fan could access it. If I loved a series of books, to be able to learn more about a character – it’d be a great experience.”
  • Jo wrote a full biography of Remus Lupin which made her very emotional. Presumably we will see this in Prisoner of Azkaban
  • They showed an exclusive preview of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on Pottermore – check it out below:

Knight Bus Moment from Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Jo revealed that she has taken her own Sorting Questionnaire on Pottermore, and got sorted into Gryffindor
  • Jessica Rowling told her mother, “I think everyone should want to be in Hufflepuff.”
  • Jo revealed that her favorite house is not Gryffindor, but Hufflepuff!
  • Once again, Jo hesitantly says that her next book will be for children.

Scholastic launches Harry Potter Reading Club with a live webcast with J.K. Rowling

Scholastic announced some very exciting news today with the launch of the Harry Potter Reading Club.

The Harry Potter Reading Club is an online destination created for new readers of the series to share the magical world of Harry Potter. For educators and librarians the Club will provide all the necessary tools and resources to start a Harry Potter “reading” club (essentially, a book club). These tools include discussion guides, a glossary of terms, a pronunciation guide and more. The Club also includes a FREE “welcome kit” for your club, complete with name-tags, stickers, bookmarks and more.

With the launch of the Harry Potter Reading Club came the announcement of a live webcast with J.K. Rowling, presented by Scholastic, dubbed a “virtual author visit”. The webcast will take place on Thursday, October 11 at 12:00 noon EST, (9:00am PT / 5:00pm GMT) and the author will be discussing the world of Harry Potter along with Pottermore. It will be available to watch globally, and will be broadcast live from J.K. Rowling’s hometown of Edinburgh.

To get the full experience out of the Harry Potter Reading Club, register or use your Scholastic log-in to unlock exclusive content (no, not that kind of exclusive content). The exclusive content includes activities that your Harry Potter book club can enjoy. The activities will be updated monthly, so you will hardly run out of ideas for the next meet up. This month’s activities include a creative writing exercise, test your knowledge on Harry Potter terms, a word-search, and an activity where you create your own wand. We have taken note that most of these activities are geared toward younger readers, probably between the ages of 8 and 11.

Scholastic has also incorporated Pottermore into the Reading Club:

“Using Pottermore with the Harry Potter Reading Club”

Pottermore is a place for Harry Potter readers old and new to share their adventures in a safe, imaginative environment. Students can read a chapter in their copy of the book, then experience the interactive Moments on Pottermore. Worksheet activities and discussions can be guided by original content from J.K. Rowling about the characters and objects from the books, as well as her inspiration and writing process.

You can check out the Harry Potter Reading Club right here. We will be covering the October webcast with a live blog along with live tweets of the event.

Sony announces new Harry Potter ‘Book of Spells’ for Wonderbook

At the E3 convention yesterday Sony unveiled the new Wonderbook, an interactive game addition to PlayStation3. Wonderbook will “bring to life a thousand stories… with a brand new series of adventures and experiences to explore”. Sony announced that the first story for the Wonderbook will be Book of Spells from J.K. Rowling. The Book of Spells is another title being published from the Hogwarts Library. In the game, you will be able to read original content from J.K. Rowling and travel chapter-by-chapter learning, reading and practicing 20 different spells. The Book of Spells project is a partnership with Pottermore, Sony, and London Studio.

Read about Book of Spells from the PlayStation website:

Book of Spells is the first title for Wonderbook, the latest addition to the PlayStation experience. Written by Miranda Goshawk over two hundred years ago, the Book of Spellscan be found in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts library. This advanced textbook will assist students on their journey to becoming an accomplished witch or wizard. Read, discover, learn and practice spells such as Incendio, Wingardium Leviosa and Expelliarmus, as well as discover mischievous notes, spells and humorous anecdotal facts scribbled into the margins by previous Hogwarts students. J.K. Rowling has written a conundrum that leads you through the experience, providing insight into the values a witch or wizard has to learn, and inviting you to journey through the book to unlock new content, rewarding successful students along the way.

The product has stirred up quite a bit of controversy among fans, particularly over the fact that to get the new exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling, they will have to purchase five products – PlayStation3, a Wonderbook, Playstation Eye, a Playstation Move  controller and the book (if they haven’t already purchased any of them).

Many were also under the false impression, as was I, that Pottermore is currently the only place to read new writing from J.K. Rowling about Harry Potter. Clearly, this has been proved to be false, as Pottermore is now only a place to read exclusive content for free. The Book of Spells will also be a place to find new content from Rowling, but at a price.

I don’t think this is a matter you should be worrying about, though, because this will unlikely turn into a series. The Book of Spells is only the first story and the others will be unrelated to Harry Potter with content about the Harry Potter world – for now. I am currently under the impression that the content released through the new book will be a different style than those found on Pottermore. For instance, you probably won’t see a McGonagall-type entry in the book, only for the backstory on the spells. For what I know, the new content is only new spells and their backstory, and Aesop-inspired poems included to teach the player morals.

The Wonderbook is an educational product used to promote reading in children. It is a game, but it is more of an educational game where the story comes to life. In some ways its like Pottermore, but Pottermore lacks the augmented reality that the Wonderbook is; Pottermore and Wonderbook are entirely different things. One’s a game, the other is an experience.

I’ve also been seeing that some do not understand Pottermore’s place in the project. Let’s just get one thing straight: this is not Pottermore’s product. The Wonderbook is Sony’s project/product, as most of you realize. The story, the Book of Spells, is a project that brings together Sony, Pottermore, and London Studio. If I’m understanding correctly, Pottermore is only that – a partner in the making of this product. From the viewpoint of a fan, it is not clear what is Pottermore’s role in the project. Perhaps all I’m saying is entirely untrue – and we’ll share the facts with you once there is some statement from either companies – but for now, those are all my theories about Pottermore’s role.

To learn more about Wonderbook and Books of Spells, click here. The book was also promoted with a magical commercial that you can see on YouTube here. View the promo for the Wonderbook here.

Guardian: ‘Pottermore is plaster to Harry Potter blues

A new article in the Guardian appeared today in which another fan once again goes exploring on Pottermore. The fan’s feedback is not necessarily the greatest, but she says it’s magical.

In the beginning she was only a fan waiting to get into the site, but after a kind member lent her account to the writer, she was off exploring. At this point in the exploration, she calls the Gateway “incredibly exciting”. She is amused once again by her profile, with her wand and potions and dueling leader boards. She goes on saying that the site artwork is beautiful and exciting, but not much else.

The writer then starts to share her overall opinions about the site. She expresses that she feels slightly unsatisfied and that she expected more. She also says the following, which we sort of found startling:

I wanted to get lost in the site in the way that I got lost in the books, but in the end you’re just a muggle with a mouse.

There is an important reason why I became frustrated while reading this statement. In the beginning, even when we first heard about Pottermore, the Pottermore team made it very clear that Pottermore was not another Harry Potter book. The site was never supposed to be another Harry Potter book, and the team’s goal was never to create that same experience. They understand that the experience of reading cannot ever be replaced by a screen and computer mouse. They know that the experience can never be just like reading the books, but their trying very hard to get close to it.

Another thing that is probably stirring up the most buzz is earlier in the article when the writer talks about her writing to Pottermore. The writer asked Pottermore when it will be open for the public and how long it would take them until they are finished with all the improvisions. The team wrote back a day later with the following:

we have decided to further extend the beta period so we can improve Pottermore before giving more people access. This means the site will not be opening to new users in the immediate future.

Now, some sites who have reported on this have interpreted this note differently than others. I think that this is just a generic response given to all of those who have asked this question (we were one of them). I do not however think that this means that Pottermore is being further delayed. I think they are just reinitiating what they said in October-  that they are delaying the Pottermore launch until a later date to make revisions designed to help make the site better. So I don’t think I would believe that Pottermore’s launch is being further delayed. They’re just taking their time, and we know that it will be the best that it can be for the public launch.