Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0439139597
Although not a children's book, children old enough to accept the notion of true evil will love Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Adults will recognize, appreciate and rave over the universal themes it contains.
At its most basic, the book tells the story of boy wizard Harry Potter who personifies good in an epic battle of good versus evil. Three paragraphs of plot summary wouldn't do it justice. Instead, get in line and buy all four books in the series and read them in order.
Why buy them? First off, you will want to reread these stories of a parallel magical world -- complete down to its laws and public transportation -- again and again. In addition, Rowling creates monstrously evil villains, not simple namby-pamby murderers. Think black-hearted evil. Think of Sauron from Lord of the Rings. Think evil so bad it tempts the good guys to step over the line, break the rules, even commit great crimes of their own to combat it.
In addition, Rowling successfully captures a real, living boy, one as recognizable as my nephew, a little boy the same age as Harry in book one. There's nothing fake about Harry. Except for his magical skills, he could be the mischievous urchin next door, chasing moonbeams one moment, pondering life and death the next. Very interesting characters in real life, children generally know much more than a lot of adults give them credit for. Rowling credits them with intelligence, creativity and spontaneity.
In The Goblet of Fire, Rowling crafts her adults with equal care. We learn more about their lives, worries and responsibilities. This makes it much easier to understand the sometimes caricatured behavior the adults displayed in Harry's first three adventures.
Should your children read Harry Potter? Can they handle witchcraft, wizardry and evil? You know your children best. But read the books before you say no! I'd give all four books to my older niece to read any day, and I already gave the first three books to my nephew. I bought him book four, but that I will hold on to for awhile. It's not right for him…yet.
Why should your children read Harry Potter? I can't speak for you. But I couldn't deny my loved ones an exciting story that helps them catch the reading bug and, more importantly, teaches them about the responsibility and decisions even the best people face every day of their lives.
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Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed all four of the Harry Potter books, and expect to read the others as soon as they come out. However, in my opinion, Goblet of Fire was a disappointment. It felt, especially by the end of the book, as if the author were rushing to meet a deadline and wrap things up.
Various subplots are raised and dropped too quickly: Hermione's concern about the House Elves, for instance, or Ron's jealousy of Harry, for another.
What bothered me the most about this book, though, was the sense I had at the end that she was just setting things up for a sequel, and major problems of logic are swept under the carpet.
For my money, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the best of the bunch so far, and Goblet of Fire just doesn't measure up.
Nora M. Mulligan