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Harry Potter sleigh arrives at Saturday morning

Shauna Farnell
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyThe Bookworm is adding hype to the already much anticipated release of the latest Harry Potter book due out this Friday by throwing a Harry potter release party at their store in Edwards.
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EAGLE COUNTY – The security surrounding the release of the sixth Harry Potter book must be something akin to an international shipment of nuclear weapons. Only there’s nothing harmful about Harry Potter (although certain members of the Christian Reich might disagree).”Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will be available in stores at 12 a.m. Saturday, and nobody’s anticipating it more than those who have long since reserved copies at The Bookworm in Edwards, which will be hosting a release party Friday night and which has 150 copies already reserved.”I guess I reserved it right when they announced the release date – it was probably around Christmas,” said Edwards resident Jane Woodward, who got her copy of book No. 5 the day it was released in June 2003 and read the entirety in one night. “I can read them easily in one sitting,” she said.So, what is it about Harry Potter that’s so addicting?”The characters seem so real. Of course, you know there’s no witchcraft or wizardry school, but the books are so well-written,” Woodward said. “The humor in the books is great, too. It’s really tongue-in-cheek in a lot of ways. The kids just step up to the plate and do what needs to be done. They use all of their individual strengths to work together as a team. I think that’s real important for kids and adults these days.”Much in the same way that the shipments of book No. 6 have arrived tightly bound and stamped repeatedly with “Do Not Open Until June 16” warnings, the contents of the book itself, the second to last in the seven-book series, are shrouded in mystery.

“Harry is older in this book – he’s 16. So, he’s dealing with being a teenager. That’s all we know about this one,” said Bookworm CO-owner Nicole Magistro. “With previous books, you heard something beforehand, like the secret was out that a character dies or something. We haven’t heard anything about this new book.”The online Harry Potter rumor mill yielded some 245,000 sites (not including an additional 88,000 if you do a Google search with the British spelling of “rumour”), and told a different story. Online, there is a lot of speculation about a character dying in book No. 6 as well as several conjectures as to the identity of the half-blood prince, which, according to http://www.halfbloodprince.com, author J.K. Rowling has stated is neither Harry nor antagonist Voldemort.”I’ve heard one of the main characters is going to die in book 6,” Woodward said. “I can’t remember where I heard that or read it. I bet it’s not going to be one of the good characters.”Don’t let the secret leakThis week, a drug store in New York accidentally sold a copy of the book and two men in Indianapolis claimed they bought advanced copies, according to the Associated Press. In Canada last week, a grocery store accidentally sold 14 copies, but a British Columbia Supreme Court ordered the lucky buyers to – life imprisonment? The electric chair? No. They were ordered to keep it a secret – i.e.: not copy it, sell it, or even read it, before its official release at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Local bookstores had to sign affidavits saying as much upon receipt of their shipments.”It’s very, very important you abide by the guidelines,” Magistro said. “They’re under very tight security. We’re not even allowed to open the boxes until midnight. You wouldn’t believe what a secure operation this is. The UPS drivers, the truckers – everybody has to sign affidavits.”This alone is an excitement-inducing marketing campaign, pointed out Verbatim Book Sellers owner, Robert Aiken.”We wanted to put our boxes in the windows for marketing. They’re definitely Harry Potter boxes. It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We have some locals who have ordered them, and some guests who want to make sure they get a copy right when they come out. They’re locked away and hidden.”We have an alarm system,” he added.

Clean your reading glassesThe Bookworm, which had a similar release party for book No. 5 in 2003, will be showing a free screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” as well as hosting several trivia games and prizes, offering pizza from the Gore Range Brewery and ice cream and snacks from the Ice Cream lady.In 2003, the Bookworm was anticipating 50 children for the release party. More than 150 showed up, many of whom took their copies outside immediately and started reading under the lights, Magistro said.Certain adults, however, are in equal anticipation of “The Half-Blood Prince.””I’m so excited,” said Edwards resident Michelle Ridler, who has three children too young to start on the Harry Potter series and who is also on top of the Bookworm’s reservation list. “I mean, we’re already looking forward to the next movie in November,” she said. “I’ve always liked fantasy books. Obviously, they appeal to adults and children. (Rowling) does a great job of keeping you in suspense and giving you clues as to what happens down the line. Each book continues to unravel the whole story of this secret society.”In addition to the adult learning tools Harry Potter provides, the books also function as a time warp in which adults can revisit their childhood through the perspective of Harry and his friends. “I’ve always loved the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and the ‘Chronicles of Narnia,'” Woodward said. “When my sister and I were young, we would both check out the maximum amount of books we could from the library. Harry Potter is the same in those series-types of books. It’s a great escapism. They just remind you of going to get a giant SweeTart and sitting down to read all afternoon.”Harry Potter release party

What: Release party for “Half-Blood Prince,” free screening of “Sorcerer’s Stone,” games, prizes, pizza and ice creamWhen: 9:30 p.m. today with book release at midnightWhere: The plaza in front of The Bookworm in EdwardsInfo: The Bookworm: 926-7323Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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