Sunday, April 25, 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Book 16 of 52 in 52

Voldemort is alive again, but the Ministry of Magic is in denial leaving Dumbledore no choice but to try protect Harry and fight against Voldemort with only a handful of others helping. Harry, on the other hand, feels frustrated at not being included in the activities of the order of the phoenix, hurt when Dumbledore continues to keep him at a distance, and keeps getting flashes of Voldemort's activities in his sleep. At Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic is interfering in the school by first appointing a new defense against the dark arts teacher from the ministry and later giving her powers to review teachers, block activities, and make up all kinds of crazy rules. Harry and his friends fight back by starting a secret club to practice spells that they are not allowed to practice in their defense of the dark arts class, and Harry gives an interview recounting the details of the death of Cedric and the return of Voldemort to counter all of the lies in the mainstream new source. In the end, he is tricked by Voldemort into going to the Ministry of Magic thinking that Sirius is in trouble, sees Sirius come with the other members of the order to help him only to be killed in battle, is saved from Voldemort by Dumbledore, and struggles to overcome the loss of his godfather and to come to terms with the prophecy that in the end either he or Voldemort will die.

Overall, the vast majority of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is about at the same maturity level as the previous book. Again, there is a good balance between the darker and lighter scenes that keep the book from being overwhelming; however, the end of the book with the death of Sirius and Harry's struggles to cope with his loss may be too much for some kids. I would postpone reading the book if your child is sensitive or if they have lost someone who is close to them and would be able to completely relate to Harry's anguish. If you don't have time to read the entire book, I would at least read through the last few chapters before handing it over to your child to read to make your own judgement on whether they can handle that portion of the book. For my 11yo, I think I'll go ahead and say she's ready for the book at this point, but my 9yo on the other hand (who has recently starting asking me when she'll get to read the books as well) is going to have to wait a couple of more years and show a bit more maturity before I hand the books over to her.

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