Harry Potter Fans Slug Down Pages of 'Prince'

The highly anticipated sixth installment of J.K. Rowling's novel about a child wizard was released Saturday. NPR's Neva Grant followed two youngsters who spent the weekend immersed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

If it is possible to chug a novel, then that is exactly what countless "Harry Potter" fans were doing over the weekend. The sixth installment in the series went on sale Saturday morning. NPR's Neva Grant met two youngsters who spent the weekend with "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

Group of Children: (In unison) Two, one.

(Soundbite of cheers)

NEVA GRANT reporting:

Megan Quinn(ph) is standing with her parents and sister Katie near the front of a joyfully crowded line in a Bethesda, Maryland, bookstore. It is just past midnight on Saturday morning when the cashier hands the two girls a thick, luminous green book. For a second, they can only stare at it.

MEGAN QUINN: Oh, my gosh!

KATIE QUINN: Oh, well ...(unintelligible).

GRANT: Katie is 12, Megan is 13. She's the die-hard "Harry Potter" fan in the family, so she gets to read the book first.

M. QUINN: This is amazing because I've never actually been able to start reading it while I'm still in the bookstore. Mom just never let me. She said I had to wait until morning.

GRANT: But not this time. Megan is older this year and her mother has agreed to let her stay up as late as she wants to. So at 12:15 in the morning, with hundreds of other "Harry Potter" fans still in line and looking at her jealously, Megan opens to page one.

M. QUINN: (Reading) `It was nearing midnight and the prime minister was sitting alone in his office reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.' That's the first sentence.

GRANT: A few more things you need to know about Megan Quinn. She is a fast reader and she's a night owl. So after getting home from the bookstore, she reportedly doesn't bother to change out of her Hogwarts School costume or to get under the covers. She reads straight through until sunrise and finishes the entire book, 652 pages, in less than six hours, she says. So when she's asked the inevitable, `How did you like it?' later that morning, you can forgive her for sounding a little peaked.

M. QUINN: There were a lot of surprises in it, a lot of things that I didn't expect, and it was--you learn a lot about things that happened in the past.

GRANT: There were also parts of the book, she says, that made her so sad that the sound of her crying woke up her mother. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is by all accounts the darkest and most mature book in the series so far. The young wizard Harry is now 16 and forced to confront the bottomless evil of his eternal enemy, Lord Voldemort.

(Soundbite of children laughing)

Unidentified Girl: ...(Unintelligible).

GRANT: It is now Saturday evening and Megan and Katie Quinn are hanging out in their basement with six girlfriends and four pizzas. All day it's been Katie's turn to read "Harry Potter," and she's already on chapter 18 and now has the book open on her lap.

K. QUINN: Sometimes when I read the book, I feel like I'm going to all the places. I go...

Unidentified Girl: Yeah, I know. It happens when you read.

K. QUINN: I like--in my dreams, I, like, go to Hogwarts and it's like everybody knows me there or something, because I become somewhat familiar with the places in the books.

Unidentified Girl: When you're reading "Harry Potter," it's kind of like it's your own special little world, and then you realize there are all these people, like, showing up to buy the first copy and you realize that it's everyone else's special world, too, and it's kind of--it's just weird to be, like, part of something so big when it feels like it's just yours.

GRANT: Then it's time for Julia Resnick(ph), Charlotte Goldman(ph) and the other friends to go home. Remember, it's still Saturday night and the book hasn't been out for 24 hours yet, but by noon Sunday, Katie Quinn says she's finished it, too, and both sisters now have slightly stunned expressions on their faces, as if they've just woken up from a long car trip. Believe it or not, Megan offers this advice for readers of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

M. QUINN: If you can, try to take it slowly. I mean, for me that's just not possible, because I have to find out what happens next. I guess I need something else to read.

GRANT: Yes, Katie Quinn will need maybe a few books to tide her over until "Harry Potter 7" comes out. Of course, like her sister, she will reread "Harry Potter 6" as soon as her mother and father get through it. Both parents expect to take a little more time than their daughters did with the book. Well, at least a week, says their mother. Neva Grant, NPR News.

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Books Featured In This Story

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre

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