By Jessica Lawson
I was five years old when I received Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a Christmas present. Each night, I would read the book with either my mom or dad, and we would work together to decipher every chapter and spell. That book sparked a love for not only Harry Potter, but reading. Each book in the series of seven further enhanced the enchanting world of wizardry that the author, J.K. Rowling, creates. The adventures I went on with Harry, Ron, and Hermione have stuck with me throughout my teenage years, so obviously I was excited upon hearing that a prequel series to Harry Potter was being created.
For those that have yet to experience the magic that is Harry Potter, it is important to know the background of the story. Set in England, Harry Potter is a young wizard who lost his parents in the wizarding war waged by the overarching villain, Voldemort. Throughout the seven novels in the series, Harry and his friends go through many trials as they work to defeat the evil sorcerer; while also balancing their education at the wizarding school Hogwarts and the typical issues teens face throughout adolescence.
Set before Harry Potter was even born, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in New York City circa the roaring twenties. A wizard from England, Newt, comes into the city with a magical briefcase providing endless room for the creatures that he studies. Newt works to change the minds of the North American witches and wizards who have been raised to turn their noses to such creatures, all while an unseen evil force threatens the city. Both series handle magic during different time periods, but there are many connections to be made in terms of courage.
I had the book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, preordered for months and finished it in a matter of days. A week after, my nine-year-old cousin was at my house for the day. We were watching a movie when she reached into her backpack and pulled out the newest J.K. Rowling novel. Quickly, I realized what she was reading and we began to discuss the central characters of Newt Scamander, Tina Goldstein, and Jacob Kowalski. We examined their passions, their failures, and their eventual successes. I again felt like I was five years old and was experiencing Harry Potter for the first time. It was then that I realized the newest book was even more magical than being a book about witches and wizards in New York City. It was introducing the next generation of children to the wizarding world.
On the surface, all of J.K. Rowling’s novels dealing with magic appear to be fun adventures between some best friends. However, once one looks into the deeper messages of the novel, Harry Potter includes tales of bravery, courage, resilience, and spirit. These themes continue to avail in the adventures of Newt, Tina, and Jacob. Learning traits such as valor and perseverance are essential to developing into a well-rounded, independent person. In addition to integral personality traits, the magical nature of the series helps to build a child’s sense of wonder. The messages communicated through the adventures of the wizards are relatable to all ages, and with the new addition to the series, the lessons can continue to be taught to the next round of readers.