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Duchnowski: DeKalb library planning magical Potter party

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

I wish I were a child again, so I could experience the DeKalb Public Library’s Harry Potter party Aug. 27 through the eyes of a child.

The DeKalb library was among 15 libraries nationwide to win party materials from Scholastic to mark the 15th anniversary of the U.S. release of the first Harry Potter book, which will be released with a new cover illustration by Kazu Kibuishi on the day of the party.

From 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 27, the library’s downstairs hallway will be decorated as Platform 9¾, the magical platform at King’s Cross Station in London that Hogwarts students used to find the train to school. The library’s main room will be transformed into the Great Hall, complete with snacks, and a staff member who resembles Harry Potter will make an appearance, complete with the famous lightning-shaped scar.

Patrons can participate in a trivia contest and a photo booth that will produce wizard trading cards, which is similar to the booth the library featured at Star Wars Days in April. NIU STEM representatives will lead a potions class, as well.

The library is supplementing the $100 they received from the Scholastic contest to extend the Potter events throughout the month: They screened the first Harry Potter movie Saturday and will show the second one at 2 p.m. Saturday in the lower-level meeting room. For details on related craft projects and other events, visit dkpl.org/events.

Edith Craig, the library’s communications manager, assured me that Potter fans of all ages would enjoy the party. She said she’d attend if she wasn’t working at it.

“We’ve done all of our promotion from teens, tweens and children, but just with the movie we had an equal amount of adults and children,” Craig said. “It’s been 15 years since Harry Potter has come out. I love Harry Potter; I’m going to the party.”

And so are members of Northern Illinois University’s muggle quidditch team. (For those sad souls who haven’t devoured the Potter books, muggles are nonwizards, and quidditch is a sport similar to soccer that is played midair on broomsticks.) Darcy Tatlock, the library’s tween coordinator who wrote the Scholastic contest application, invited the 30 or so quidditch team members who have been active this year, team President Micah Haji-Sheikh said.

Haji-Sheikh, a 20-year-old DeKalb native about to start her junior year at NIU, remembers her parents reading the first four Potter books to her and her brother when they were children. She insisted on reading the fifth book to her brother herself and, years later, joined the quidditch team after seeing a poster at the Rec Center.

Haji-Sheikh identified with the Slytherin House, which values ambition, cunning and resourcefulness, and adopted the character of Narcissa Malfoy, who is the mother of Potter’s arch enemy Draco Malfoy, for the quidditch field. She recently attended QuidCon 2013, a quidditch convention in Seattle.

On Tuesday, I played around on Pottermore, an interactive online community that features new writing by Potter author J.K. Rowling, and had a wand (12.25 inches long, unbending, beech wood with unicorn strand at its core) select me. I also was virtually sorted - as I suspected I would be - into Ravenclaw, which has a house tradition that values intelligence, knowledge and wit.

If you’re ready to acclimate your children into the world of wizardry, Pottermore seems appropriate for tweens, and Scholastic has reading club materials available at hpread.scholastic.com. If you’re interested in joining NIU’s quidditch team, email Haji-Sheikh at niuquidditch@gmail.com.

For her part, Haji-Sheikh seemed as confounded as I was that Potter’s U.S. franchise was 15 years old. She said: “It’s like, ‘Wait? I’m how old now? And it’s been around for how long?’ ”

• Jillian Duchnowski is the Daily Chronicle’s news editor. Reach her at 815-756-4841, ext. 2221, or email jduchnowski@shawmedia.com.

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