With Goblet in Hand
Harry Potter fans celebrate Book Four
by Holly Hartman
This article was posted on January 20, 2000.
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By the late hours of July 7 hundreds were lined up outside the Children's Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., awaiting the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Children with hand-painted lightning-bolt scars hopped excitedly. Kids wearing Harry Potter specs or witch make-up mugged for television cameras and news reporters. Hogwarts professors in academic robes helped keep order, while a hooded Dementor wove among the crowd.
While waiting, kids traded Harry gossip and recalled favorite memories of other Harry books. Some had been reading about Harry almost as long as they had been reading. Ten-year-old Jake, from Newton, "actually read [the first book] before anyone else knew about it," after receiving Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the original title of Sorcerer's Stone) from a British friend in early 1997.
"I just think it's really cool that the whole country's involved," said 12-year-old Caity Richards of Brookline. "It's not just a Brookline thing. And it's not just U.S.A.—it's global. You really feel like you're a part of something."
"It's like the millennium," said Caity's dad, Andy Richards. "I think it's amazing that people are doing this for a book."
Unveiling The Goblet
By the time the witching hour arrived, the line stretched all the way down the block.
Shortly after midnight, the bookstore door opened and shouts rose from the head of the line. Soon a small boy slipped from the shop and darted across the street, two of the huge volumes clutched to his chest, a car-key-toting adult hurrying behind. Some of the next customers to leave the store permitted fans waiting outside to gaze upon—and in some cases touch or hold—the much-anticipated books. "Look how thick this book is," one said in wonder.
One boy in full wizard face-paint held the book over his head and sprinted the length of the crowd, yelling a joyful "YAHAHAHAHAHA" at the top of his lungs.
Chocolate Frogs, Anyone?
Like other booksellers hosting Harry Potter midnight events, the staff at The Children's Bookshop had a variety of activities planned. The line that wound all the way around the store passed chocolate frogs, licorice wands—and a Sorting Hat.
Nine-year-old Sophie Landry held the Sorting Hat. "I'm supposed to be Ron Weasley," she said, "but my broken wand is at the front desk." From the hat, customers drew sticker pennants with the names of the Hogwarts houses. ("Slytherin is a strong house, not a bad one," a Hogwarts professor advised a doubtful student who had drawn a green pennant.)
"It's going to be a quiet weekend," one parent observed. Many children spent 10-hour days reading the book J. K. Rowling allegedly worked 10-hour days to complete.
The Publishing Event of the Century
Some 3.8 million copies of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire have been printed in the United States alone. So far, the book has been published only in English, and has only been distributed mostly in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Ireland. Australia and New Zealand will get their copies on July 14. A U.S. Braille edition will be published on July 28.
For the first time, the book was released on the same date in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Still, the five-hour time difference meant that British children got it five hours earlier.
The book was released on a weekend to avoid a problem that had come with weekday release for other Harry Potter books—cutting Muggle school to read about life at the wizard school.