“You’re a Wizard, Harry”

Leanne Bellot, CSA North Kensington Library, writes:

On Thursday 5th February 2015, North Kensington Library joined the thousands of Muggles, Witches, and Wizards that convened across the UK to celebrate the very first Harry Potter Book Night.

Magic 15Unbelievably, it has been seventeen years since the first publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. In that time, Harry Potter has evolved into a global phenomenon that has touched and inspired a generation. Harry Potter Book Night was a great opportunity for fans old and new to share their knowledge, learn new tid-bits, and celebrate this enchanting story. It was also a brilliant and exciting way to introduce prospective readers to the franchise. There were so many great moments, both in the planning stages and during the actual event. Here is a summary of some of the mischief managed!

Decoration Preparation

I drew inspiration from some of the most iconic scenes in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to form ideas on how to best transform the Children’s library into a little piece of the Wizarding world.

From “Chocolate Frogs” to “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans”, we had some of the best wizarding confectionary on display in our window. Although the actual chocolate frogs were nowhere to be seen, we did remember to display our collectible wizard cards.

The handmade wands we produced were pretty impressive; they came in different colours, a variety of cores (dragon heartstring, unicorn hair and phoenix feathers), different sizes, and were at least two Galleons cheaper. Ollivander, the famed wand-maker, had better watch out!

Mirror of ErisedZvezdana Popovic, our senior customer service assistant, created a charming version of the Mirror of Erised. In the book, the mirror is described as being able to show people their hearts’ deepest desires through their reflection. For Harry, who has never known his parents, this desire manifested in a vision of a loving family with living parents. Visitors to the library were encouraged to look into the mirror and share what they saw looking back at them.

Of course, no Philosopher’s Stone celebration would be complete without a Sorting Hat. I made our Sorting Hat from newspaper, mod rock and a copious amount of glue. It took two weeks to make all the props and although it did get a bit messy, it was not only great fun but also incredible to see the faces of the children who saw everything for the first time on the day.

Hogwarts: A “New” History

If you knew anything about the architecture of Hogwarts, forget it. Ours was actually built during our January Story and Craft session. Led by Zvezdana, the attendees were invited to help design and construct their very own School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Billards, one of the families in attendance, helped to design and decorate one of the castle’s sides. I can hardly tell the difference between ours and the one used for the movies – it is just that great. Happily, the family also came along to the main event and posed for some lovely photographs in front of their hard work.

Harry Potter Book Night: Madam Malkin’s Robes and the Sorting Hat Ceremony

Zvezdana brought a chest full of wonderfully magical looking cloaks, robes and cloths that the children wasted no time in using to dress up in. Likewise, we staff members had a lot of fun dressing up for the event. Lynn Terrel (Kensington Central Library) looked the part in a very McGonagall-esque outfit that had many children exclaim excitedly upon her entrance. Silva Memic, Sophie Rose and Zvezdana all looked great in their velvety magical ensembles and I did my best impression of a Gryffindor student (although obviously, it was a bad decision as I quickly received a rather stern telling off from one young witch for failing to choose Ravenclaw as my house – maybe next year?).

Without a doubt, the best dressed of the night had to be the young wizard who came as a young Harry Potter. He looked absolutely fantastic in his Gryffindor robes and took it like a champion even when he was subsequently sorted into Slytherin.

The Sorting Hat ceremony was loud, lots of fun and a great photo opportunity. The children were invited to sit on the chair and have the hat placed upon their head before blindly selecting a house from the sorting chest. Once sorted, they were given their house sticker which they wore with pride. The completion of the Sorting Hat ceremony led into the House Cup Quiz. The quiz turned out to be a really, really, passionate affair with Gryffindor as the ultimate winners. It was amazing to watch how quickly the questions were being answered and how eager each child was to earn points for their house. Next time, we will definitely need harder questions!

Mariam El Boukilli, who came to the event, shared her thoughts on the evening “I really liked the Sorting Hat and it was fun making the crafts. I liked playing Musical Statues (Stuperfy), the quiz was good – even if we didn’t win, and the prizes and sweets were really good. I had a lot of fun!”

Klaudija Cermak

We were incredibly lucky to host the talented Klaudija Cermak for a special presentation. A specialist in visual digital effects; some of Klaudija’s credits include work on two Harry Potter films, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”. In the “Chamber of Secrets”, Moaning Myrtle, the ghost that haunts the girls’ bathroom, was her main responsibility. Klaudija revealed that she had initially been asked to work on the digital effects for the spiders but had to decline due to her arachnophobia. In the seventh film, Klaudija was responsible for the wand fighting scene between Harry, Ron and Hermione and the Death Eaters in the café. It was interesting to hear how the director would first share his vision, resulting in different processes and techniques she would then employ in order to create a product that everyone was satisfied with. The films “Troy” and “Gladiator” also appear on Klaudija’s long credit list and when briefly mentioned, Zvezdana was quick to point out that most of the audience were still restricted to U and PG certificates, much to everyone’s amusement.

It was a brilliant experience and I’m already planning for next year!

“He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting up in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (A quote has never been truer!)


Blog post from the North – June 2013

Welcome to our June blog post from our three libraries in the North.

Notting Hill Gate Library

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

The Notting Hill Gate Library Reading Group met to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. As usual the discussion was lively and vibrant with opinions bouncing across the table.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a monologue by Changez, a young Pakistani boy telling his life story to an American stranger in a café in Lahore. Changez used to live in America and is reporting why he has come to live back in Pakistan, in doing so he highlights the post 9/11 tensions. Changez went to America as a student to study at Princeton University, he lands a job with a prestigious consultancy firm and falls in love with an American girl, everything changes for Changez after 9/11 when his dream becomes a nightmare.

The group had different opinions about what the book was actually about. Some said it was about a man finding his identity, some said it was about the after effects of 9/11 and some said it was about a man going against America, but what we all agreed was, it was powerfully written and Changez’s story was deeply touching. We covered a range of discussions from religion, terrorism, capitalism, identity crises, the American dream and culture.

The story is full of intrigue, suspense and tension and it’s where we are left to fill in the blanks and the ambiguous ending that made it an exceptional book to discuss.

A trip to the cinema
A trip to the cinema

Lucky for the Notting Hill Gate Reading Group, the Reluctant Fundamentalist was then released in cinemas on 10th May, so of course we had to go and see it! We enjoyed the movie as much as we enjoyed the book and thought it was a great idea to have a comparative discussion. We were of course annoyed about some of the cuts from the book but we thought it still kept the essence of the story and it did justice for the book. We are very enthusiastic about linking future films with books.

Fancy a mystery?

To celebrate Crime Writers Month, we have decide to make things a little more exciting at Notting Hill Gate, choose a mysterious book from our display if you dare…

Crime fiction display at Notting Hill Gate Library
Crime fiction display at Notting Hill Gate Library

National Crime Writing Month is an initiative of the Crime Writers’ Association. Formerly known as Crime Writing Week, it was launched in 2010 with 50 events up and down the UK. In 2012, due to the popularity of the event, it was increased to a month. It gives readers the opportunity to explore the latest and best crime writing, as well as to discover (or rediscover) many classic writers. At Notting Hill Gate we have a vast collection of books by the authors of the Crime Writing Panel and by other authors associated with Crime Writing Week.

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

North Kensington Library

Sunshine in the Children’s Library

Don’t you think the sun is bright?
I wonder where it goes at night?
Does it sleep or does it hide?
Or is the moon its other side?
Does it hide behind the hills?
Late at night as outside chills?
Do you think it needs to rest?
From all that warming it does best?

On a gloomy and rainy Thursday afternoon we brought some sunshine to North Kensington Children’s Library by reading a poem about the sun, written by Gareth Lancaster and making the sun for our half term story and craft session. Children enjoyed tracing their palms on coloured paper, cutting traced fingers and sticking them on the back of paper plates. That is how we created the sun and now our display in children’s library looks bright and sunny.

Adisa Behmen-Kreso
Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library

Kensal Library

National Bookstart Week

Bookstart logo
Bookstart logo

We are looking forward to celebrating National Bookstart Week here at Kensal Library and will be having a special baby rhyme time on Friday 28 June at 10.30 to 11.00 am with stories, songs and a craft tying in with Bookstart’s theme of fairytales.

There’s  more information about National Bookstart Week on the Bookstart website.

Crime at Kensal

Crime fiction on display at Kensal Library
Crime fiction on display at Kensal Library

We currently have a crime fiction display at Kensal Library to promote National Crime Writing Month.  We have included staff recommendations and the display has proved to be quite popular.

Natasha Chaoui

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library