DeKALB – Small, black-robed figures entered the DeKalb Public Library on Tuesday afternoon through a “brick wall” sponge-painted on a glass door.
The door represented Platform 9¾, which, as any fan of the Harry Potter series of books and movies knows, is the way to find the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The library held a Harry Potter Party, partially funded with a grant from Scholastic, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the series’s first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Library staff – many also in costume – directed herds of children between the activities, which included a horcrux hunt, a craft table where they could make a Deathly Hallows charm or a golden snitch, and a House Cup Trivia Tournament.
“I planned the Star Wars party last April, and I love Harry Potter more than Star Wars, so this was even more fun,” said Darcy Tatlock, the library’s ‘tween coordinator, who planned many of the activities. “I’m getting to share my love of Harry Potter with everyone else who loves Harry Potter.”
Tatlock was excited about Northern Illinois University’s presence at the party as well, she said. Some members of the university’s quidditch team – a sport played on broomsticks in the Potter fantasy world – were scheduled to do a meet and greet, and NIU’s STEM Outreach did a chemistry workshop, aka potions class.
By the library fireplace, a crocheted version of Hogwarts’ sorting hat sorted children into the school’s four houses based on their answers to a series of multiple-choice questions.
Daniel Martin, 7, said it was easy to figure out which answers would get him sorted into his favorite house, Gryffindor.
Daniel’s sister, Susana, 9, and her friend McKenna Nonnenmann, 9, snacked with Daniel at the Gryffindor table.
“I’m glad I got in Gryffindor and not something stinky like Slytherin,” Susana said. “I just wish I knew how to play chess so I could play wizard’s chess.”
Susana has read all seven of the Harry Potter books and seen the first four movies, she said, calling the series one of her favorites. Her mother, Jeanette Martin, said she first read “Sorcerer’s Stone” when she was pregnant with Susana, and likes the range of people the series appeals to.
“Younger kids still love it, and now you have people who have grown up with it,” she said. “It’s really cool, actually.”