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Star Ledger Harry Potter Special!

Learn to expect the unexpected


The magic in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" isn't just about potions, spells and ghosts with self-esteem issues. There are plenty of other magical things in Harry's world that are rather ordinary in ours, and you never know what to expect.

Staircases: There are 142 staircases in the great castle, but some lead to different places depending on the day of the week and some have vanishing steps.

Doors: They usually don't open unless you ask them politely or tickle them in exactly the right place. And some doors aren't doors at all, but solid walls pretending, at least for the moment, to be doors.

Pictures: The portraits of people that hang on the walls of Hogwarts are unusual in exactly one respect: They move. Or at least the people inside them move around. Sometimes they fall asleep, sometimes they just get bored and wander off, and sometimes they're lonely and want to talk.

Meals: The students may eat the same kinds of things you and I do, like roast beef and chicken, and potatoes and peas -- with an occasional peppermint humbug thrown in -- but their plates clean themselves. The ceiling of the Great Hall, where the students eat, is also unusual. It's velvety black and dotted with stars, and the thousands of candles that light the room float in midair over the students' tables.

Hallways: There are an awful lot of hallways at Hogwarts, and some of them are hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries. If students want to go from one hallway to another, they have to step through a hanging portrait. Sometimes, though, they have to wait if the people in the portraits are napping or are just downright cranky.

Sports: Harry Potter's world wouldn't be complete without Quidditch. For the students of the four houses at Hogwarts, Quidditch -- and winning the annual Quidditch Cup -- is like winning the Super Bowl.

Quidditch is an aerial game, sort of like basketball on flying broomsticks, with seven players on each team and four balls -- the Quaffle, the two Bludgers and, of course, the very valuable, silver-winged Golden Snitch, which one of the two Seekers (Harry's position) must catch before the game can end.

-- Amy Ellis Nutt


Copywritten by Star Ledger