Harry Potter: A History of Magic (American Edition)
British Library and New York Historical Museum and Library

Once in a while, I run across a book that just makes me want to say, “WOW!” This is such a book.

It may be hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since, J.K. Rowling first introduced Harry Potter to the world. This anniversary edition is done by the British Library and The New York Historical Society. The book is actually subtitled; The Official Companion to the British Library Exhibition at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. I understand that there is an exhibit in New York of the history of magic going on now.

As one might suppose, the history of magic through the ages is presented to the reader, but is it done in a rather unique format. The chapters are arranged to lead the reader through the history as if he or she were taking classes at Hogwarts. The titles of each chapter is the name of a class that Harry would have taken at Hogwarts; i.e Herbology, Divination, and Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Most things presented in the text are actual historical items, but interspersed with the historical are copies of drafts of Rowling’s drafts for the texts of the Harry Potter series and actual artwork for those books. Some illustrations are pen and ink drawings by Rowling herself, but the fantastic color illustrations were done by Jim Kay for Bloomsbury Books.

The book is well-bound. It is delighting to the eye, interesting to read, and engaging for all Harry Potter fans, ages 6-60. It also could be used as a source for research into the history of magic. There is an index of the exhibits shown in the text and brief biographical sketches of Rowling and of the curators of the British Library Exhibit. I highly recommend the purchase of this book for public,middle, and high school libraries.