Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for Wendy Lawton, who is out of the office today.
A friend of mine loves Harry Potter books.
Actually, with her degree in English, Leah loves all good literature.
She’s a bibliophile–she loves books. Not only for their stories, but also the physical holding and owning of a book.
Leah and her husband plan to take their first vacation this summer, and they’re going to her dream spot: England.
I asked her what she’s going to purchase for a souvenir while she’s there, and she had a fast answer: “For me, the complete set of Harry Potter books. I love the British covers.”
I laughed. I brought her back a copy of a Harry Potter book purchased in Oxford several years ago. Now she wants to round out her set.
“Buy them in Dublin [the final stop on their trip],” I advised. “Books are heavy to haul around, and you should pick them up the day before you return home.”
“Ah,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, “but they’ve got a different cover in Ireland.”
I hope I haven’t tempted her into buying 13 books!
Harry Potter looks different the world over. Here’s a link to the different versions.
In addition to English, Harry Potter novels have been translated into 73 other languages. You can even buy Harry Potter’s story in Latin!
He’s even had a makeover in the British versions. The original versions, published by Bloomsbury are elemental and reflect what Bloomsbury though they were publishing: children’s books. The first two, in particular, look like something a nine-year-old would read:
As the phenomenon grew, they covers became slightly more sophisticated, as befitting Harry’s age.
The versions I purchased in Oxford looked more abstract:
You’ll notice Harry himself doesn’t appear in the more recent versions.
While traveling in Italy last month, I saw Harry Potter books were among the few children’s books on the shelf at a bookstore. I was amused at how different they looked:
That’s Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the left and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the right. The original Italian versions reflected the juvenile tone of Bloomsbury’s:
Harry Potter, of course, has been read all over the world. When we visited New Zealand in 2002, his books were practically the only thing available for children in the bookstores. As our daughter had read the Potter books early on, we were looking for other books and visited bookstores all over the country. I finally asked a bookstore owner, “Do you have anything besides Harry Potter?”
“That’s what everyone wants to read,” he answered.
“But what will the kids read when they’ve finished all the Harry Potters? There’s a lot more children’s literature out there!”
Our foreign exchange student from Brazil taught herself English from reading Harry Potter books.
“I read the first one,” she explained, “with the book in one hand and the dictionary in the other. By the time I bought the last book, I could read it easily.”
Her copies obviously used the original Scholastic covers published in the U.S.
I bought this book for my niece for her birthday one year, just before she left on a trip. Can you guess which country she visited?
It worked beautifully. When a friend from that country visited her the next year, she spent a lovely summer day engrossed in a magical world using words she knew from birth!
You can purchase foreign translations of the Harry Potter books online.
Leah loves the beautiful lines of the Bloomsbury second edition. The serpent on the cover of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets glows in the copy we’ve got here in California.
It’s interesting to me how the different countries emphasize different aspects of the story while retaining some similar characteristics–that serpent, for example.
Early in the books’ career, some adults were embarrassed to be seen reading a children’s series. Some hid the books behind a magazine or even put a different book jacket on top.
Perhaps looking to make the books more adult-friendly, another version came out in the UK:
Here’s my question: which set do you like the best and why?
Which set, in your opinion, reflects the story the best?
Foreign covers for Harry Potter. Which do you like the best? Click to Tweet
Harry Potter covers change around the world. Click to Tweet
Who saw an adult version of the Harry Potter books? Click to Tweet