Thursday, October 1, 2009

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K Rowling (audio)

The love affair continues for us. We (defined as my kids and I) have seen this particular movie no less than three dozen times. My daughter and I have read the book several times over. But the audio experience continues to thrill.

Now let me take a step backwards for just a moment. I'm not really looking to boost my cred in your eyes, but I am an audio book addict. I've listened to well over a hundred audio books since I have discovered the beauty of a book read aloud, all while I clean my toilets, mow the yard, and run errands. A few of the brilliant come to mind...Testimony, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The School of Essential Ingredients, The Little Stranger. Jim Dale, the Harry Potter narrator, is among the most talented I have ever heard. Imagine the enormous shoes he has stepped into. When he was recording this particular audio, the movies had not yet been made. With the direction of Rowling, he has attempted to embody each of the characters, all with his one God-given voice. Not only does he nail certain characters, such as Hagrid and in this novel, Professor Lockhart, but he has comedic timing. The kids and I laugh our way to school and back, with passers-by thinking we are a carload of simpletons.

But I digress. Before I read the books, I would have claimed this installment to be my least favorite (although, who wouldn't love the visual of the little shriveled, screaming, bad-baby Mandrake plants?). But once you read the book, you realize this is yet another critical step in the making of Harry. The underlying theme throughout the entire book Harry good, or is he bad? Does he really belong in the house of Slytherin, or in Gryffindor? Is he the heir of Slytherin? What part does fate play in the destiny of Harry? We learn that the events that unfold are not a pre-determined destiny, but result directly from our actions. Walking the walk, and talking the talk, if you will. Not a bad lesson to learn.

We get a little more intimate with Voldemort - this time with his memory and what will be known later as a hoarcrux. Every books gets just a tiny bit darker.

The maniacal laughing of the Nawrot family for this audio primarily was inspired by the absurd, piggish behaviour of the Dursely's, and by Professor Lockhart. The voice of Lockhart is the mirror image of Kenneth Branagh's character in the movie...shallow, narcissistic, and intellectually obtuse. The voice of Moaning Myrtle was not the same high-pitched, sing-songy voice as the movie, but equally as entertaining, weighed down with malaise and depression of being dead and living in a toilet.

Very few details of the book were changed to make the movie, so you will find most everything intact in the transition.

I've noticed a number of people who have commented that since they have seen the movies, they don't think it is necessary to read the books at this stage. I would beg you to reconsider. As talented as the screenwriters and directors are, there is absolutely no comparison. You must experience these books in every blissful, magical word.

5 out of 5 stars


Kylez..aka...Mrs.P! said...

I totally agree with you that the Harry Potter books def have to be read to truly grasp and appreciate the whole wonderful story. I've recently convinced my sister she should read them (she's not much of a reader) and she's enjoying them and watching the movies after each book. I can't wait for her to read the last one so we can discuss the story in full.
I found your blog via Alice Teh's and I'm really enjoying it.

Unknown said...

I didn't realiise The School of Essential Ingredients was that good on audio - I'll have to try to find a copy so I've listened to all your favourites!

I am pleased to discover that the Potter books are continuing to be great - I think I'll wait until my boys are a bi older and then listen along with them.

Do you not consider adding Child 44 to that list - I've almost finished listening to it now and think it is the best audio book I've listened to so far.

kayerj said...

Nice post. And I would agree, each format (book, audio, movie) gives another dimension to the story. I enjoyed all of the Harry Potter books and movies. I've listened to the first 4 I think. But unlike you--I can't seem to rewatch the movies. Everytime I put one on, I'm off to dreamland. Something about the music and the soft drone of their English voices. I "dunno" what's wrong with me?

Sandy Nawrot said...

Mrs. P - welcome from Alice's place! That last book was something else. I had to lock myself up in the bedroom, away from my loud family, to read that last bit of the book. I almost felt like going into mourning after it was all over!

Jackie - yes! School of Essential Ingredients only has one narrator, but is wonderful. Her voice almost SOUNDS like food. It is delicate and melodic, and you just want to roll around in it. I did love Child 44 on audio, what a great accent! It would probably fall in my top 10.

Kaye - well, some of the movies are better than others. I would have to say that I feel they are better on the front end than the back. The last couple have been disappointing to me. That last one I feel totally missed the boat.

Michelle said...

These are all great books, whether you read them or listen to them being read. And I agree that just because you've seen the movies, that does not mean that you don't have to re-read the books. If anything, you should go back and find out what you've forgotten or what they left out of the movie that is so critical. They enhance the movies and should continue to be read and re-read.

Calico Crazy said...

I've read them all, and my daughter and I have watched the movies. Now we are doing read alouds for the books and she is loving it. I generally save audio books for when we do car trips, but I may have to reconsider.

Calico Contemplations

ds said...

I think we did everything but the audio for this one (as for all HPs)--our loss, as Jim Dale is meant to be perfect. And yes, reading and rereading (and rereading) are requirements for these books--how else can you shout out all the punchlines with the characters? (we are sick in that way over here)

bermudaonion said...

We've read all of the Harry Potter books and we're really anxious to listen to the audio versions. They sound fantastic!

caite said...

will THEY take my blog away if I admit I have not read any of the Potter books?

And if I tried to mow the grass while listening to an audio book, I might return to the house missing several toes.

Unknown said...

Oh I just loved this book! I hated all the angst that Harry went through and the Dursleys, ugh!

I would guess these books are great on tape!

Sandy, there's an award for you on my blog!


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

The HP books are so popular and I have read not a single one. I might try the first out on audio. It never occurred to me to do that but I bet it would be a fun listen.

Alice said...

Hi Sandy, this book brought back fond memories when I first read it a few years ago. I felt the same way you did!

P/S: It's great to see Mrs.P here. *waves at her*

Heidenkind said...

I just got this audiobook from the library for the Harry Potter Challenge! This is one of my favorite of the HP books, so I hope I like it. I haven't listened to a lot of audiobooks.

Ana S. said...

I agree with what you said about each book being a necessary step! If pressed I might have said this was my least favourite...but I love the series to bits, and this is an important part of it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Michelle - absolutely! In fact, the reason I've read them several times is because I generally re-read before a movie comes out, so I remember all the backstories (which are sure to be left out!).

Calico - I am amazed how peaceful my car is when we listen to these. No fighting, no whining, just listening with rapt attention!

ds - the kids were doing that yesterday, so we are the same way. They were laughing at the knight in one of the paintings that try to help them find Divination (he shouts "A Quest!").

Kathy - I wish I could figure out how and when to listen other than in the car. We honestly cannot get enough. The kids get pissed when their father takes them to school even!

Caite - you make me chuckle! If you want a chunk of time to participate in unadulterated enjoyment of a story, look no further. Read the hard books your first time through (unless perhaps you might read them on a Kindle?). There are hazards in multi-tasking. I've fallen in the pool before.

Amy - oh those Durselys are deliciously horrid! And I can't wait until Umbridge shows up...she's even worse. (Thanks for the award!!!!)

Nicole - It IS alot of reading, but they fly by so fast. You might try the audios. They are better than most!

Alice - you're sharing your friends with me! Thank you!

Tasha - if you are new to audios, this is a great place to start, except that it is going to set the standard, and others will then disappoint you!

Nymeth - yeah, I agree, but then when you read it, there are things that are special about it!

Jenners said...

I've heard how good these audio books are. Perhaps listening to them with my son instead of reading them aloud with him (when he is older) might be the way to go ... I'll save my voice!

And I agree 100% -- no substitute for not reading the books!!!! The movies do not compare!

Jeane said...

I agree that having seen the movies is no substitute for reading the books. While I love seeing the visuals they produce in film, that version is nowhere near as complex and detailed as what you find in the books. They simply can't put it all in.

Lauren said...

I have to agree-you get a lot more out of the books than you do the movies. Plus, they hint at future plots - and these hints aren't transferred onto film.

Anna said...

I agree that people shouldn't discount the books because they've seen the movies. The Girl's teacher loaned her a copy of this book yesterday, and she was excited to start reading it. But right now, she's reading about three books simultaneously, and the new Jeff Kinney book comes out Monday (and she's been saving her birthday gift card since July!), so I'm not sure she'll finish it.

Diary of an Eccentric

Jen - devourer of books said...

As much as I enjoy the movies, I agree that the books are far superior. This is one of my least favorite of the books, but you're right that it does provide some important aspects of Harry's character development. I would also agree that I love Dale's Hagrid and his Lockheart. I'm enjoying the audios I'm listening to right now, but I'm looking forward to get back to the next Harry Potter.