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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Title Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author J.K. Rowling
Publisher Scholastic Press
Year 1999
ISBN 0439136350

Teaser/Reader Annotation Twelve years ago Sirius Black was arrested for the murder of thirteen people and sentenced to life in Azkaban. Now that he has escaped he appears to have a new focus – finding Harry Potter.

Plot Summary As Harry Potter prepares to begin his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he faces an entirely new set of dangers and adventures. That summer both the wizarding and muggle worlds are shocked with the escape of the convict Sirius Black from the wizard prison, Azkaban, and are on high alert for any sign of him; though the muggles know nothing of his wizard origins. Harry is not too terribly concerned with this development until he learns through some creative spying that Black was not only guilty of murdering thirteen people but was the one who betrayed Harry's parents' secret location to the dark wizard Lord Voldemort the night they were killed. Enraged by this knowledge, Harry vows to track down and kill Sirius Black no matter what it takes. Secrets revealed along the way to revenge, however, may change everything Harry knows about himself, his family, and the night he was orphaned.

Critical Evaluation Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series and is used as the transition novel between Harry's younger, less intense troubles and the more serious, older works in the series. In this we learn more about where he came from and begin to get greater pieces of knowledge concerning the intricate plot lines that Rowling weaves throughout the series. There is a great deal of foreshadowing and metaphors used in this novel, laying out the groundwork for a more complicated and darker story line in the future, warning the readers that the whimsical world of Harry Potter is about to get significantly darker. Rowling also does a good job in laying out the theme of misconceptions and judgments in the character of Sirius Black. Her use of the time turning device and the layering of multiple timelines happening at once had the potential to get extremely confusing and unravel the story, especially for a new author as she was at the time, but she held it together well and was able to tie the story together in a conceivable way in an ending that left the readers waiting for the next book.

About the Author J.K. Rowling was born July 31, 1965 in Gloucestershire, England. The story of her conception of the Harry Potter series is one of the most talked about events in the literary world. She reportedly thought of the idea on a train trip to London in 1990 and spent the formative years of the writing process scribbling ideas onto napkins and scrap pieces of paper. While she was writing the first novel she was living on welfare and attempting to care for her young child, struggling through a bad divorce. The experiences she went through in that time greatly shaped the themes and characters in the novels.

Since the publication of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1995) she has become a multimillionaire and one of the most influential celebrities in the world. In 2007, Time Magazine ranked her as runner up for Person of the Year for the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. Having written seven books and overseen their adaptations into movies, Rowling is taking a break and dedicating time and money to charities.

Primary Genre Fantasy

Curriculum Ties None

Booktalking Ideas

1) One of the lessons Harry learns in this novel is to get all of the information before making a decision about something. In what ways could the novel have gone differently if he had learned this lesson before now?

2) In what ways is the theme of prejudice represented in this book?

Reading Level/Interest Age All ages

Challenge Issues None

Why is it included? This was a book a read repeatedly as a young adult and still enjoy today.
Tags: !book, primary genre: fantasy
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