By KATHY KORENGEL
LYNNWOOD – It was way past their bed time, but on this night it didn’t matter.
After months of anticipation, the magical moment had arrived.
About 100 parents and their elementary school-age children anxiously waited for the clock to strike midnight Friday in the Lynnwood Books store on 196th Street. Hundreds more had lined up in front of the mammoth Barnes and Noble store near Alderwood Mall.
They all awaited one thing, the latest offering in a children’s book series that has taken the older-elementary world by storm – books about a boy wizard named Harry Potter.
And a chance, if they were lucky, to take home a copy of the much-hyped book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
"My 8- and 11-year-old are fanatical about Harry Potter," Charlie Harbeson of Edmonds said as he waited at Lynnwood Books with his two sons. "My oldest has read the first one eight times, the second one six times and the third one seven times, or so he says," Harbeson said, referring to the first three Harry Potter books. "We’ve had this date on our calendar for about two months," Harbeson added.
At midnight exactly, a cluster of kids gathered around the boxes plastered with warnings not to break the seals before July 8.
A young boy received the first copy and the small crowd cheered. As the bookstore owner, Mark Kagi, called out names, others came up and grabbed their copies, some with a hoot.
Even Kagi has enjoyed the harried arrival of the new Harry Potter books, although he hadn’t received all the books he’s ordered and had to send a few customers who hadn’t pre-ordered books home empty-handed.
"In the decade that I’ve been here, this is one of the most fun things that’s happened," Kagi said, "because kids are genuinely excited about a good read."
Kagi quoted the poet Emily Dickinson in explaining part of the reason for the book’s success: "Books take you to lands away."
"Once kids experience that in a book they become readers," Kagi said.
And for these young readers, it all started with the help of the Harry Potter series authored by English writer J.K. Rowling.
"It’s exciting. It’s an adventure," 11-year-old Marcus Brakstad of Edmonds said of the stories about a boy who attends a school for wizards in a castle.
Megan Fadlovich, 10, who was visiting from Chicago, said she likes the fantasy and "all the mystical creatures" in the books.
Lauren Paris, 11, of Edmonds, finds them "much more challenging than other books," adding that she thinks the books are like mysteries. "There are things you have to figure out to get the rest of the book."
Tacia Buslach, 11, of Edmonds said: "They’re different than other books. They have good, colorful characters. They’re loyal and good friends to each other."
Children were not the only ones effusive over the books about the boy wonder.
"This is the most imaginative children’s writing that I’ve read in years," said Becky Bowling of Edmonds, who came with her two children. "And there’s nothing in them that could hurt anyone. You know from the get-go that they’re just going to be fun and imaginative."
Bowling’s family had already ordered the book from Amazon.com and expected to receive it Saturday. "We just came for the party," Bowling said.
Many other families told how Harry Potter has become a part of their lives, recalling how the oldest child in the family read it first. As a result, the younger kids became interested, and parents ended it up reading the book to younger siblings.
A few parents told how the creative book led their children to read more, and not just Harry Potter books. "He didn’t read very much before," said Bowling of her 11-year-old son, Elliot Thomsen, who read Harry Potter at his teacher’s urging. Since then, he’s started reading other fantasy books.
"He didn’t realize how neat books were before," Bowling said.
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