Yesterday, the fully-illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released, and due to timely pre-order, it came in the mail (via owl?) by noon. Once I opened it, I literally couldn’t pry my eyes from the page.
There’s something about illustrations that always seem more real to me than actors’ portrayal. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but most characters from books that I see in my head are somewhat cartoonish, like they’ve been drawn or sketched.
To this day, I don’t see Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, or Daniel Radcliffe when I re-read the Harry Potter books; I see Mary Grandpre’s artistic renderings of the characters. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I was so happy to go through the moments in Pottermore (R.I.P.) and why I love the new, fully-illustrated Sorcerer’s Stone so much.
With stunning artwork by Jim Kay, there’s hardly a single square inch of this book that isn’t illustrated—it reminds me of old illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. It’s full of magic and whimsy.
But more important, I think these illustrations offer more insight into the characters and the story. I think there’s something lacking in the films, some kind of disconnect between text and image. But here, the two are intertwined inseparably. Illustrations are utterly dependent on the text, whereas films take liberties and can reinterpret.
Also, the art is breathtaking, but the previews released makes that statement redundant. I couldn’t believe my eyes at times when I turned the page to see yet another gorgeous rendering, and the use of color and detail are perfect.
Some of the detail in this book is astounding. Everything looks lifelike, but magical in the way you’d think Harry Potter would be. Little birds are drawn in the corners of books, ink splotches adorn the margins, and the text weaves around the artwork, adding to the entire words-plus-pictures experience. They are entirely harmonious with each other.
Also, the artwork is unique from any other previous imagining. There is little to no borrowing from Grandpre’s work, the UK art, Pottermore, or even the films. It’s new, offering a fresh perspective that livens up these well-known stories. This may be Potter for an entirely new generation, one that may not have seen the movies yet.
I think it’s even better than the Pottermore art, which I absolutely loved. It’s so rich, and inviting, evocative and immersive.
As an object, it’s a thing of beauty, and perfect to read to your kids. Although I have to admit, my kids will have to have their own set, because these are going on a special, high shelf. This is a must-have collector’s item for any really enthusiastic Potter fan.