________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World: Exploring the Harry Potter Universe.

Fiona Boyle.
Toronto, ON: ECW Press, 2004.
466 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 1-55022-655-X.

Subject Headings:
Rowling, J.K.-Characters-Harry Potter-Handbooks, manuals. etc.
Potter, Harry (Fictitious character)-Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Rowling, J.K.-Stories, plots, etc.-Handbooks, manuals, etc.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Annika Putt.

**** /4


Whether you’ve forgotten the name of a magical creature, can’t remember the effects of a spell, or have trouble keeping all the characters straight, A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World is an ideal reference tool and companion piece for the Harry Potter series. It contains a comprehensive, at a-glance glossary covering everything from Azkaban prison to Zonko’s, plus lots of fun, interesting, and useful extras to enrich your reading experience.

For the avid Harry Potter reader, A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World is an eye-catching piece on the bookseller’s shelf. The latest of a growing number of Potter-related books is meant to be a complete resource or encyclopedia of the wizarding universe. A Muggle’s Guide is designed to be useable by all ages but with one restriction; the reader must be a Harry Potter fan to appreciate it. Although the information in the guide is meant for all ages of Harry Potter lovers, I do not recommend the book to younger, less experienced readers. There are many technical terms and an obvious lack of pictures that will make it an extremely difficult read for early school years children (around kindergarten to grade 2). These readers may still appreciate the information and fun facts provided, but they will need an experienced reader to interpret for them. A more advanced reader can enjoy the guide from cover to cover, but a younger child will appreciate the guide as more of a reference tool.

     Like any reference source, organization is key. Boyle has chosen to organize the guide by large topics such as “Hogwarts” and “The Characters.” Each large topic is then broken up into smaller themes ranging from “Hogwarts Students” to “Magical Beings and Creatures.” This organizational style is very effective and makes the guide a very easy tool to use. The glossary and index are extensive and enable the reader to look up even the most obscure topics.

     As Fionna Boyle states early in the book, A Muggle’s Guide is not meant to be a substitute for the Harry Potter series. It is an in-depth collection of important information from the book, interesting facts, and news about the sixth book. For most readers, it will serve as a refresher prior to watching a Harry Potter movie or while reading the books out of sequence. If something has been forgotten, it can be looked up in the index of A Muggle’s Guide and quickly refreshed. Some of us Harry Potter lovers will never need to reference an item (having never dared forget it), but, for the rest of you, there is A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World! The Guide is not just full of facts straight from the Potter books. There are numerous interesting tidbits interspersed throughout. Boyle’s “Did you Knows” are exciting, and, when reading the guide, readers might find themselves skipping ahead to read the next one. There are also other sections related to Harry Potter, such as British translators, movie-book comparisons, and how to host a Harry Potter party. Since Rawlings books contain many British words, the translation guide is very useful. Although I thought I knew most of the British words and sayings, some of them were new to me. I thought a Knickerbocker Glory was a hamburger, but it is really a type of sundae!

     Obviously, even the biggest Harry Potter fans can benefit from this helpful guide. In the end, A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World was an interesting read. Since I have read the Harry Potter books so many times, most of the information was already stored in my brain. Because of this, I sometimes found the details tedious, but I enjoyed all of the extras. It is a very well organized guide, and the index is extensive and easy to use. I recommend this book to a devoted Harry Potter reader, and highly recommend it to a reader who enjoys the books but has only read them once or twice. For the latter group, this book will serve as a great refresher and information source, and, for the first group, it will be full of interesting and perhaps unknown extras.

Highly Recommended.

Annika Putt is a Grade 12 student in Winnipeg, MB, and a Harry Potter fan.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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