Thanks to Bloomsbury and illustrator Jim Kay, a new breed of readers will get to experience the magic of JK Rowling’s expansive wizarding world anew through the September 2015 release of a fully-illustrated version of the Harry Potter books. This article from The Guardian has the scoop on the commissioned book illustrations, which will see Harry looking more like Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry in the movies.
The first in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is slated for publication in September 2015, and publisher Bloomsbury will release each of the subsequent titles annually, re-creating the original publishing schedule which started in London in 1997, and so successfully developed readers as they, and Harry and friends, grew older together.
Illustrator Kay has reimagined Harry for a new generation of readers, in a style that nods to Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal of the boy wizard in the film versions of the novels, and captures the character of Harry in the books.
Kay, who won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls in 2012, said “the commission of a lifetime” brought “an explosion of delight, followed instantly by an implosion of brain-freezing terror”.
“To design the characters, the clothing, the architecture and landscapes to possibly the most expansive fantasy world in children’s literature, well let’s just say I’m extremely excited about it,” Kay said. “However, I am also mindful of the huge responsibility this represents. I want to make sure I do the best job I possibly can.”
The artist described picking a favourite character from Rowling’s universe as “like trying to choose the shiniest object in Aladdin’s Cave; you pick up one treasure, and another gem catches your eye”, adding that his imagination is captured at the moment by building a Hogwarts “supported by magic – it’s harder than you’d think”.
For Kay the starting point for such a commission is the obvious one: the text. “The story is everything,” he explained, “and so I want to bring what I can to really show the depth of Rowling’s stories, to their best.” A Potter fan himself, Kay came to the books through Stephen Fry’s reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling’s creation of an entire world is a bit like magic, he continued. “It’s like a spell that jumps from person to person, recasting itself as it goes. I want to keep that spell going, perhaps adding my own little twist, if possible. I hope over the years we will see lots of different illustrators having a go, in the way that Alice in Wonderland has inspired artists for over a century.”
Bloomsbury is working with publishers of Harry Potter all around the globe in an attempt to schedule simultaneous global publication of the series. The Harry Potter novels have sold 450m copies worldwide and have been translated into 74 languages.
The Harry Potter books are a shared favorite among elementary school literature teacher Jamie Squillare and many of her young students. Visit this blog for more of her thoughts on primary school education and literature.