J.K. Rowling recently released a mysterious video announcing something called Pottermore, the name itself enough to send many crazed fans into a hysteria comparable to the release of the final movie.
Back in July, millions of Potter fans around the world flocked to the midnight premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," bedecked in robes and adorned with fake lightning-bolt scars and round glasses. This movie was to mark the culmination of a story that had begun 21 years previously when, during an extended train ride, a single mother imagined the story of a boy who didn't know he was a wizard.
That writer was Rowling and her ascent to fame and fortune soon followed as Harry Potter mania swept across the world. Fans eagerly awaited the release of each book and movie over the years, turning out in large numbers to every premiere. And now, in 2011, it had ended.
Or so we thought.
Pottermore, Rowling announced in June, is a website where fans will "share, participate in, and rediscover the stories." Though little more information was released at the time, a limited number of fans were allowed to register early and experience the website before registration opens to all.
Originally set to open at the end of October, Pottermore's Beta period has been extended by the creators in order to improve the site before giving access to all. The site has yet to announce a new registration date, but the official Pottermore blog at http://insider.pottermore.com keeps readers up-to-date about all site developments.
"Pottermore is like a portal into the books," said Christal Hazelton, a junior from Clearfield High and one of the lucky few admitted early to the website.
Hazelton says that Pottermore lets visitors visually experience the story, although she still prefers using her imagination to paint her own picture. Rather than a means to experience the story itself, Pottermore is meant to be an aid in picturing the scenes and a way to interact with the story.
Pottermore walks you through several illustrated "Moments" from each chapter in the books, allowing you to explore deeper into the world of Harry Potter. Each moment consists of a short description of the scene depicted as well as several hidden objects within the picture. As you find them, you can collect magical items, books and coins, and can discover exclusive information from J.K. Rowling about the series, setting and characters, such as Professor McGonagall, Ollivander the wandmaker, and Nicholas Flamel.
"I absolutely loved the new content on the characters, like McGonagall's backstory," Hazelton said.
Erika Hoel, a senior at Da Vinci Academy, is also interested in the new information from Rowling.
"I think there is a far deeper story to the Harry Potter series than meets the eye," she said. "I want to know where she (Rowling) got her ideas, what sparked the story of the lost boy who is Harry Potter. What made her decide he would be the story's protagonist? Why did she choose Harry to be the hero?"
Rock your house
While it's unknown whether Pottermore will answer all of these questions -- as only the first book of the series is open to beta testers so far -- there certainly is an abundance of information waiting to be found.
"I love the site! It's so cool! You can get sorted in different houses, and there's tons of stuff to do," said Kaycee Burtt, a junior at Bonneville High,
Some of the "stuff" you can do on Pottermore, apart from moving through the books, includes interactive activities. A quiz determines what kind of wand would choose you, and then provides you with information about what that wand says about your personality.
Another quiz places you in one of the four Hogwarts houses -- Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin. You can then communicate with your fellow housemates and assist your house in the competition for the most points. You can brew potions, befriend other site users, shop in Diagon Alley, and post your own Harry Potter artwork for others to see. You can also try your hand at dueling, earning house points with every victory.
"I think Pottermore would appeal to many different types of kids because there are many different aspects of it and each person can find something that relates to them," said Austin Andrews, a junior at Northridge High.
The Boy Who Lived
Pottermore has it all, whether you're looking for an interactive and visual accompaniment to reading the Harry Potter books or exclusive information about the world of Harry Potter, or if you just don't want to let the story of the Boy Who Lived die.
After all, who doesn't want a little magic in their lives?
Kalli Damschen is a junior at Clearfield High School. She is passionate about reading, writing and her Christian faith. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.