Woven Into Destiny: A Review
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition
When I saw that there would be an illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I preordered a copy right away. It delivered to me yesterday, and I felt like a kid at Christmas. It’s a substantial and beautiful hardcover at 10.9 x 9.7 x 1.2 inches and 256 pages long. I thought that maybe there would be a few illustrations throughout. I was wrong. Every single page has been touched by the illustrator. Every page shows the love and attention Jim Kay put into this work.
I’ll give you a glance at the beautiful art that awaits you.
Unwanted by his aunt and uncle who foster him, young Harry Potter sleeps in a cupboard under the stairs. This is how we are first introduced to Harry, an unassuming beginning for the Chosen One.
Last week’s Fiction Friday highlighted a prompt driven by the use of props in characterization. This illustration is another such example. The cupboard is littered with items that foretell Harry’s magical future in the midst of his very muggle present. The owl statue, the chess piece, the can with the lightening bolt, and the spiders all nod to the new life awaiting Harry– where these things will be transformed beyond his imagination. Old paint cans and tools that sit next to worn and broken toys speak to the life he has now. It’s a sad scene painted with such an empathy to this character, for whom this cupboard is home. This is not the space of a cherished child. He has been discarded among a heap of items the family cannot throw away, much like Harry himself. Perhaps the most depressing and telling detail of all is the toothbrush in a cup. He’s so little a part of the family, he is not allowed to have any evidence of himself in the house, including something as small as his tooth brush. I can just imagine little Harry, shuffling through the hallway in his over-sized clothes, carrying his toothbrush out of the bathroom back to his cupboard, removing the only trace of his life in the house on Privet Drive.
The boy-who-lived looks comfortable in the cramped space. It belongs to him more than any place ever has, and at least here he can have some peace. That peace is reflected in the warm glow of light which emits from no clear source, but throws a sense of comfort and home to a scene so very unlike home. Even in his person, there are signs of neglect. The knees of his jeans have been haphazardly patched, as if he did it himself, and his glasses are taped together in the center. Despite this, Harry’s expression is gentle and unassuming. We would never expect this boy to be extraordinary, but for the inclusion of the many spiders.
In fact, the point of view in this painting seems to be that of a spider. These spiders that we see in the foreground continue across the page crawling their way through the text as the text, in turn, weaves back around them. Throughout the book, the illustrations mingle with the words, becoming one with the story. Spiders, who will follow Harry throughout the seven novels, tie the two worlds together– muggle and magical. Each spider has been painstakingly painted, some with skull designs on their abdomens, foreshadowing Harry’s future in the magical world where his life will be in constant danger. Spiderwebs loop around the room, and Harry has been woven into the scene as into his own destiny, a destiny for which he is unknowingly being groomed.
The illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a work of art, and I highly suggest it to fans of the series. You will not be disappointed in this lovingly crafted gift Jim Kay and J.K. Rowling have given us all.