Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on April 29, 2016
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
By J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication date: 7/31/2016
An 8-year-old might have winced at the sight of an 870-page novel before the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. J.K. Rowling’s writing by the fourth book in the series—the storytelling, the characterization, the worldbuilding—would morph into super powers and change what, how and why children read. Rowling didn’t create a market for literary fantasy, but she had succeeded in engaging a wider group of readers no longer reluctant to tackle 870-page novels.
I wonder whether the opening of a new Harry Potter play in London this summer might have a similar effect on the reading of drama. With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, librarians could conceivably see a bump in checkouts from the nonfiction shelves at Dewey Decimal 810. Could children’s book publishers also see a demand for more titles on plays and playwriting?
Appeals for a sequel prompted Rowling to consider a creatively satisfying project that would also be worthy of Harry Potter fandom. She discovered a brilliant solution by collaborating on a new story from the Potterverse for the stage. The play would be an official sequel to the original seven Harry Potter books.
Set 19 years after the final novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the play casts Harry, now married with children, as an overworked Ministry of Magic employee struggling with his past as youngest son Albus Severus takes on the family legacy.
If the play’s successful release translates into a demand for other readable and engaging scripts in book form, how frequently do children read plays now?
“Plays aren’t checked out as often,” said Lucy Abbott, children’s specialist assistant at the Harris County Public Library branch at Lone Star College-CyFair. “We have a small number of titles on the shelves. Students performing in a play or for a homework assignment want to learn how a script is structured.”
Abbott went on to explain that a younger reader with interests in drama or comedy might request a particular play and find a version published as a teen graphic novel.
“A homeschooled student recently asked for one of Shakespeare’s plays… Much Ado About Nothing,” she said.
Did this young Shakespeare aficionado look forward to reading the upcoming Harry Potter play? According to Abbott, he did indeed ask when the play would be available for checkout.
The Palace Theatre London will open the much anticipated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II on July 31. Scholastic imprint Arthur A. Levine Books plans to release the script in book form at midnight in the United States after the play opens in London.