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. . . And now your family's looking for psychiatrists, you can't engage in a normal conversation, and even you are looking for new reading materials.  Well, my friend, your search is over, here's Tealin's List of Fun Books for Recovering Harry Potter Addicts!

The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy
    All three books featuring Johnny Maxwell are superb.  Written by Terry Pratchett, one of my favourite authors, they're funny (really, genuinely funny, not that sugary humour found in most kids' books), entertaining, with real characters and engaging plots, with a dash of philosophy and brain food thrown in.  They don't need to be read in order, but the most detailed descriptions of the stock characters are in the first one.
Only You Can Save Mankind - One day, while playing his video game which centers around blowing up aliens, Johnny gets the message "We surrender."  Now he has to get the aliens safely out of game space while having to fight off other players still intent on destroying them.   Not only is this a great adventure story, it also makes you think about the reality in which you live - when the images on the TV news look like something out of a video game or movie, they're easy to dismiss as such, but when the video game becomes a very real reality, the perspective changes.  I, personally, think this should be required reading, but that's just my opinion ... 
Johnny and the Dead - For some reason, Johnny is able to see and hear the residents of his hometown's cemetery, and must now become their spokesman to those who want to bulldoze the place to build an office park.  In the meantime, the dead start having adventures of their own, including infiltrating the city's phone grid.  
Johnny and the Bomb - When the local bag lady is found terribly wounded, Johnny ends up as guardian of her shopping cart full of odd black garbage bags, which possess the mysterious ability to transport people through time.  Johnny and his friends end up going back to May of 1941, the day their town was bombed by German planes, and try to find a way to save Paradise Street.
 I really can't say enough good things about these books - they're funny, they're clever, they don't talk down to kids, and they make you consider things you wouldn't have considered before otherwise. 
    Unfortunately, these books are almost impossible to find in the States, except in the audio book form, but they're rather cheap on Amazon UK, so if it's worth it to you to read some really great books, get them there... 

 

The Chrestomanci books
    These four books by Diana Wynne-Jones involve a world not unlike our own, with the one exception that large numbers of people are capable of magic.  The individual in charge of making sure this magic is used properly and that conduct between this world and other parallel ones is regulated has the title of Chrestomanci.  The four books that make up this series are:
    Charmed Life
    The Magicians of Caprona
    Witch Week
    The Many Lives of Christopher Chant
   
Full of interesting characters and imaginative plots, these books are one of the most popular new explorations of Harry Potter fans.  It's not hard to see why, the magic is quite similar between the two series, both involve magical creatures, and of course the main characters are kids having magical adventures in a world just far enough removed from our own to be familiar yet new.
    Diana Wynne-Jones has also written a multitude of other books with varying degrees of magical influence in them.

 

The Bromeliad (Or Truckers, Diggers, and Wings)
    Another trilogy by Terry Pratchett, these books center around little people called nomes, who live at ten times the rate of humans and are only a few inches high.  Obviously, their perception of the world is not only very limited (like that of frogs living in a bromeliad) but quite different from our own.  Most nomes have lived for generations in a department store, where the Supreme Being is Arnold Bros (est. 1905) and the advertising slogans are scripture.  To this strange place come Masklin and his small band from the Outside, bringing with them the Thing, a mysterious black cube that begins talking.  It learns that the department store is soon to be demolished, so it's necessary that the nomes venture into the vast, unknown Outside to fulfill their destiny.
    In looking at the world through the nomes' eyes, you get a really interesting perspective on what you thought was perfectly normal, and makes you wonder what's outside your bromeliad.

The Dark is Rising Sequence
    This is a series of five books by Susan Cooper which are truly engrossing, setting up a world of magic like a layer on top of the "real world" much in the way harry potter does, but with more interaction between the two.  Basically they're about the forces of the Light battling the powers of the Dark, steeped in legend and myth and the history of the British Isles.

Over Sea, Under Stone
The first in the series, this was my favourite book when I was in grade 6 but had no clue the series continued until I got into college.  It's about the Drew children and their summer vacation to the sleepy Cornish town of Trewissick, which becomes a sort of Indiana Jones style quest for a lost artifact of immense significance.  Upon rereading it, it's the odd duck among the titles in this sequence Ė it seems aimed to a younger audience than the others and seems like Ms. Cooper is testing the premise that the rest of the series is built on.  But an enjoyable read nontheless.
The Dark Is Rising
This is the one that really kicks off the series.  It focuses on Will Stanton, an eleven-year-old boy in a small English town who learns he is the last born of the Old Ones, a line of immortals dedicated to fighting the powers of the Dark on behalf of humanity.  He must learn their ways and, with his elders, drive back the siege that the Dark has lain upon England at the turn of the year.  Filled with fantastic imagery, intriguing characters, thick with the ancient traditions of Christmas, and some of the best transitions from magic to reality that I've ever read.  
The Grey King
Will Stanton is sent to live with family in Wales after a serious illness.  While there he learns he must fulfill a quest for the Light, and also meets a mysterious boy, Bran, whose own story and destiny turn out to be much more significant than they first appear.  The attention paid to tradition and myth is back, this time of the Welsh variety, making the story just as rich.
Greenwitch
The Drew children are back in Trewissick, this time with Will, and the conflict between Light and Dark returns as well, this time at the summer festival which sees the ancient tradition of the Greenwitch come into play.
Silver on the Tree
The conclusion Ė the battle between Light and Dark, which has been escalating through all the books, is coming to a head.  The Drew children are in Wales now, and they run into Will and Bran unexpectedly, though it's anything but a coincidence.  Will and Bran end up following an ancient prophecy into a mythical land lost to time, while the Drew children get swept up on a quest of their own.  And I can't tell any more without spoiling the whole thing...  

When I moved for college, and my roommate found out I was a Harry Potter fan, she immediately demanded I read The Dark is Rising, saying it was so much better. I resisted for a long time, but finally relented when I discovered it was the same series as that favourite book back in Grade 6.  Now ... I agree with her.

 

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Pretty much everyone knows that the original British versions of the books are not the ones for sale in the States, as numerous British words have been "translated" into more familiar terms for those who are afraid of learning new words.  Football becomes soccer, Father Christmas becomes Santa Claus, jumper becomes sweater, etc.  BUT, did you know that more has been changed than mere vocabulary?  It's true!  So here, for your perusal, are the changed passages that I've noticed.  There may be more that I haven't noticed, but ... I haven't noticed them.  If you have, please send them in.  These are from the third book, all towards the end.

 

American Version

Then Lupin spoke in a very tense voice. (pg. 343)

British (Original) Version

Then Lupin spoke, in an odd voice, a voice that shook with some suppressed emotion.  (pg. 252)

Black jumped at being addressed like this and stared at Hermione as though he had never seen anything quite like her. (pg.370)

Black jumped at being addressed like this and stared at Hermione as though being spoken to politely was something he'd long forgotten. (pg. 272)

I used your name but told them to take the gold from my own Gringotts vault.  (pg. 433)

I used your name but told them to take the gold from my own Gringotts vault, number 711.  (I'm not sure on the page number or the exact quote as I've lent my book out at the moment, but I am sure of "711".)

It even makes more sense the original way.  I had always wondered what was meant by that description of Black's stare at Hermione, then it turned out she didn't write it at all.  So what happened here?  Did the person transcribing it or setting the text lose some words and make up replacements or . . . what?  Perhaps we shall never know.
But what's most worrying is the omission of Sirius's vault number Ė this smells suspiciously like something that would be important later, as a vault number does not sound like something you'd casually write in a letter.  The fact that it's also only two away from the vault in which the Philosopher's Stone was kept is also very intriguing.  At Gringotts, if they numbered vaults the same way they number houses on streets, with the even numbers down one side and the odd down the other, then 711 would be right next to 713.

 

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I wrote this rather recently, in a fit of insanity.  This is to the tune of  "A Most Peculiar Man" by Simon & Garfunkel, found on the album Sounds of Silence.  It was inspired by the name of the person who lives upstairs from the most peculiar man in the original Simon & Garfunkel song.  It sounds like they say Mrs. Riddle.  Kind of.  The first time, anyway.  Now, I understand you have to stretch a little, to make Voldemort's mother still alive, for my first verse, but as she was the one who inspired the song in the first place, I had to put her in somewhere.

 There are a couple lines that don't exactly fit the syllables of the original words of the song, but they work if just sung to the music, and it's at a part where that doesn't seem to matter all that much, musically, anyway.

He was a most peculiar man.
Thatís what Mrs. Riddle said,
And she should know, she was his mum and all.
She said he was a most peculiar man.

He was a most peculiar man.
He had a magic wand, could unlock doors, and fly a broom
Powerful ways . . .
A most peculiar man.

He had no friends, just mindless drones.
And no one dared ever speak to him, cause he wasnít friendly, and he didnít care,
And he didnít like them, oh, no,
He was a most peculiar man.

He died last Halloween night.
Arrived at the house of his enemies
Killed the young man first, then his nice young wife, then he tried to kill the baby but he couldnít somehow
The curse rebounded and destroyed the house
And thatís the last we saw of him

And all the people said, let us hope that heís dead,
But wasnít he a most peculiar man?

 

I came up with this parody in 1999, and for a while it was the only thing at all on my whole Harry Potter page.  Now it's relegated to the miscellaneous section.  Poor thing.  Anyway, it's to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."  I encourage anyone and everyone to seize the opportunity to sing this version of the song whenever the original is sung (or whenever else you feel like it), whether at a Major League baseball game, a little weekend carnival, or completely out of the blue.

Take me out to see Qudditch
Take me out to the crowd
Buy me some ev-er-y flavour beans
I don't care if by Muggles I'm seen
For it's root, root root for the House team
If they don't win it's a shame
For the Golden Snitch must be caught
At the Quidditch game!

 

 

 

Well, there you go.  You survived.  And you can roam around from here, if you like.

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