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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J. K. Rowling

Publishers Weekly: Year five at Hogwarts is no fun for Harry. Rowling may be relying upon readers to have solidified their liking for her hero in the first four books, because the 15-year-old Harry Potter they meet here is quite dour after a summer at the Dursleys' house on Privet Drive, with no word from pals Hermione or Ron. When he reunites with them at last, he learns that The Daily Prophet has launched a smear campaign to discredit Harry's and Dumbledore's report of Voldemort's reappearance at the end of book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Aside from an early skirmish with a pair of dementors, in which Harry finds himself in the position of defending not only himself but his dreaded cousin, Dudley, there is little action until the end of these nearly 900 pages. A hateful woman from the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge (who, along with minister Cornelius Fudge nearly succeeds in expelling Harry from Hogwarts before the start of the school year) overtakes Hogwarts-GrandPrE's toadlike portrait of her is priceless-and makes life even more miserable for him. She bans him from the Quidditch team (resulting in minimal action on the pitch) and keeps a tight watch on him. And Harry's romance when his crush from the last book, Cho Chang, turns out to be a major waterworks (she cries when she's happy, she cries shen she's sad). Readers get to discover the purpose behind the Order of the Phoenix and more is revealed of the connection between Harry and You-Know-Who. But the showdown between Harry and Voldemort feels curiously anticlimactic after the stunning clash at the close of book four. Rowling favors psychological development over plot development here, skillfully exploring the effects of Harry's fall from popularity and the often isolating feelings of adolescence. Harry suffers a loss and learns some unpleasant truths about his father, which result in his compassion for some unlikely characters. (The author also draws some insightful parallels between the Ministry's exercise of power and the current political climate.) As hope blooms at story's end, those who have followed Harry thus far will be every bit as eager to discover what happens to him in his sixth and seventh years. Ages 9-12.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal: Gr 4 Up-Harry has just returned to Hogwarts after a lonely summer. Dumbledore is uncommunicative and most of the students seem to think Harry is either conceited or crazy for insisting that Voldemort is back and as evil as ever. Angry, scared, and unable to confide in his godfather, Sirius, the teen wizard lashes out at his friends and enemies alike. The head of the Ministry of Magic is determined to discredit Dumbledore and undermine his leadership of Hogwarts, and he appoints nasty, pink-cardigan-clad Professor Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and High Inquisitor of the school, bringing misery upon staff and students alike. This bureaucratic nightmare, added to Harry's certain knowledge that Voldemort is becoming more powerful, creates a desperate, Kafkaesque feeling during Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. The adults all seem evil, misguided, or simply powerless, so the students must take matters into their own hands. Harry's confusion about his godfather and father, and his apparent rejection by Dumbledore make him question his own motives and the condition of his soul. Also, Harry is now 15, and the hormones are beginning to kick in. There are a lot of secret doings, a little romance, and very little Quidditch or Hagrid (more reasons for Harry's gloom), but the power of this book comes from the young magician's struggles with his emotions and identity. Particularly moving is the unveiling, after a final devastating tragedy, of Dumbledore's very strong feelings of attachment and responsibility toward Harry. Children will enjoy the magic and the Hogwarts mystique, and young adult readers will find a rich and compelling coming-of-age story as well.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms