Happy almost weekend everyone!
Tonight I am reviewing one of my favorite Harry Potter books–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. I have always loved this particular book and am excited to share some of my thoughts here.
This is part of my Harry Potter Marathon from June-December 2016. I will read and review one Harry Potter book each month. Check out my review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Please share your thoughts in the comments and read along with me!
My first experience with this book – Like I mentioned in my Chamber of Secrets post, I got this book for Christmas when I was in elementary school. I remember being so excited to read books 2 and 3 in the series. In many ways, the first three books in this series blend together for me because I read them all in close succession. I remember loving the quidditch in this book. The scene where Gryffindor wins the Quidditch Cup is one of my all time favorites in the series (still disappointed it wasn’t in the movie). There are so many moments I have always loved in this book. I also loved the time travel, the Knight Bus, the week Harry spends in Diagon Alley before school, and Lupin’s classes (especially the boggart).
What surprised me this time – I read this right after The Cursed Child and it was fun to seemingly go back in time to Harry’s years at Hogwarts. Again, the length surprised me a bit. This book follows the length and style of the first two books. We get a little more length in the time-turning climax but, overall, it’s quite simple. I love the naivety of the characters. Harry is still learning so much about who he is and his future mission. But he’s also just a boy who likes being with his friends and wants a family. Also, I was surprised by how important Crookshanks is to the plot. I had forgotten about his role. I have seen the movie several times and have that plot in my head. I was surprised how slight differences in the book are (in my opinion) better. For example, I like the way Harry and Hermione are not seen at all in the past except for Harry’s Patronus. One of my favorite settings this time around was Hogsmeade- I would love to go into Honeydukes, Zonkos and The Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer!
Who I love most in this book – I love Lupin in this book. He is such an inspiring and talented teacher. I want to take a class from him. I also love how he teaches the importance of friendship and also how to have fun. He is a great role model and friend to Harry. I really like Sirius Black for his complexity and his loyalty. He is such a strong character and immediately connects with Harry. And there is so much more to their relationship to come! I still hate Sirius’ death in book 5. I love Oliver Wood in this book because he is so crazy about winning the Cup. And then he just sobs when they actually do 🙂 I love Hagrid because he tries so hard to be a good teacher. But he is still a bit ridiculous about animals. Also I love his celebration when Buckbeak escapes. Finally, I love Professor Trelawney. She is so crazy and so weird and more important than anyone realizes.
How I see Harry, Ron, and Hermione changing – I have enjoyed how innocent and inexperienced these three are thus far in the series. They are just starting to understand how to use magic, but they are always willing to try to save the world. I love that Harry looks forward to seeing them so much at the end of each summer. It makes me laugh how much Ron and Hermione argue in this book and almost always over silly things. I love how Harry connects with Sirius at the end of the book. I think it is so interesting that he fears the dementors more than Voldemort. He is already learning to control his fears which becomes more important as the series continues. We get hints of his larger connection with Voldemort in this book. So much will come in the next books!
What I learn from this book – The truth can be difficult to attain but is always worth seeking. Sirius is imprisoned for years unjustly and Harry thinks Sirius betrayed his parents to Voldemort. But we learn important details about those events that change relationships and future events. Happiness can always overcome fear. I think the dementors are such interesting villains. Because they suck out happiness, they can control people through fear. To create a patronus, you must focus on happiness. Intriguing paradoxes here. Time is complex and should be approached carefully. It is always tricky to have time travel in stories because it opens so many alternate plots. What I like about time travel in this book is the caution they use and the purpose of their changes. While we cannot time travel in our reality, it is still useful to think about the complexities of time and how to use it wisely.
How I would teach this book in a class – I would love to have students write an essay about the dementors and fear. Perhaps we could start with what they fear the most and how they would make it funny (like Lupin teaches with the boggart). I would also be interested in hearing about where in the novel students see light and darkness interact (possibilities would be in the dementors, patronus charm, night versus day) and what we learn from those interactions. Finally, it would be fun to write about how students see truth and lies at play in this story. Buckbeak is condemned because Draco Malfoy lies about his arm. Sirius is imprisoned and sentenced to the dementor’s kiss because of false evidence. Both are freed because of truth. How does this apply to the larger Harry Potter story? In our lives?
Finally, a few favorite quotes from this book. Can I just say how much I love the Marauder’s Map? And Dumbledore?
“It made all the difference in the world, Harry. You helped uncover the truth. You saved an innocent man from a terrible fate.”
“Hasn’t your experience with the time-turner taught you anything, Harry? The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, pages 425 and 426
And a last description of my favorite quidditch scene ever.
“If only there had been a dementor around…. As a sobbing wood passed Harry the cup, as he lifted it into the air, Harry felt he could have produced the world’s best patronus.”
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, page 313
This has always been one of my favorite Harry Potter novels, and it continues to impress whenever I reread it.
Which Harry Potter book have you reread recently?
What do you think of The Prisoner of Azkaban?