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Video Interview of Scholastic HBP Contest Winners

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Posted by: sue
July 03, 2005, 07:24 AM


Barbara Marcus and three of the Scholastic Half-Blood Prince Essay contest winners were interviewed yesterday on NBC's Today Show. The video of the interview has been posted on the Today Show website. To view- click here, and scroll down to where it says "More Today Show Video" to watch the interview. You can also read a transcript of the interview below.
One of the lucky winners interviewed on the video is Julia Ceraolo. Julia's late sister Olivia was the inspriation for Julia's essay, for it was Olivia's love of Harry Potter books that helped her during her struggle with cancer. The news of Olivia Ceraolo's illness even reached JK Rowling. The St. Petersburg Times reports

Two weeks before her death, Olivia received a letter from J.K. Rowling, who had heard of her illness through a friend. Rowling expressed concern, sent birthday wishes and complimented Olivia on her poetry.

Now Julia was fortunate to win a contest where she and her mother will fly to London, receiving a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as well. Julia says of her late sister "She's probably giggling and laughing," she said. "I know this would make her very happy." You can read Julia's moving essay and the entire news article here.

KATIE COURIC, co-host:

We're back at 8:11. The countdown to the next installment of J.K.
Rowling's best-selling "Harry Potter" book series is on. And in celebration of this literary event, six weeks ago Scholastic announced their search for America's Biggest Harry Potter Fan. More than 8,000 Muggles responded, and this morning we're going to learn who the winner is. Barbara Marcus is the president of Scholastic Children's Books. Three of the contest finalists are Kaitlin
McAfee,Julia Ceraolo, and Robert--Roberto Pagan.

Hi, everybody. Good morning. Nice to see you.

Miss KAITLIN McAFEE (Harry Potter Contest Finalist): Hi.

Miss JULIA CERAOLO (Harry Potter Contest Finalist): Hi.

COURIC: How's everything?

Miss McAFEE: Pretty good.

COURIC: Yeah? A little bit overwhelming to be on national
television, isn't it? But how do you like this set? Isn't it cool?

Ms. BARBARA MARCUS (Scholastic Children's Books): It's gorgeous.

Miss CERAOLO: Yes.

COURIC: Makes you feel like you're in Harry Potter land.

Well, let me ask you, Barbara--tell us a little bit about the
premise of the contest. Remind everybody.

Ms. MARCUS: Well, we thought it was important to remember that
"Harry Potter" is a wonderful book, all the books are wonderful, so we thought we would do a contest to get all the kids excited in anticipation of why they love reading "Harry Potter."

COURIC: And about 8,000 people wrote in.

Ms. MARCUS: Right.

COURIC: Kids from all over the world?

Ms. MARCUS: It was just in the United States, so it's across the
country. Ages nine to 17. And we thought at Scholastic we knew about loving, knowing, and being inspired by Harry Potter--we were no match to these essays.

COURIC: Is that true?

Ms. MARCUS: They were unbelievable.

COURIC: Well, let's talk to--to some of the finalists.

Kaitlin, tell me about why you think you're America's Biggest Harry Potter Fan?

Miss McAFEE: Well, "Harry Potter" has been inf--like it's influenced my life in more ways than one. The books themselves are just so magical and so amazing; and it's like you sit down and you read them and you just--like reality kind of fades away and, you know, pressures just--you get so engrossed in the book you just don't worry about anything. And also, my grandfather and I have a
very close relationship, and "Harry Potter" is one of the ways that, you know...

COURIC: That you connect.

Miss McAFEE: Yeah. Exactly.

COURIC: And I understand he looks like Dumbledore.

Miss McAFEE: Yes, yes, he does. He has the half-moon glasses, but
he's always had those, not just because of Harry Potter. And he has the big nose and the blue eyes and it's OK. I love you, grandad. OK, sorry.

COURIC: Oh, that's so sweet. That's OK.

Meanwhile, Julia, you have a very, very personal connection to Harry Potter,don't you?

Miss CERAOLO: Yes. My sister and I, before she died, we used to read "Harry Potter" together. And we'd read it to each other, and it was a nice little escape for us.

COURIC: This is your sister, Olivia, right?

Miss CERAOLO: Yes.

COURIC: Who--who died of cancer? Is that right?

Miss CERAOLO: Yes. She was 16.

COURIC: Oh.

Miss CERAOLO: So, when she was sick, we would sit--we would lay down in our beds and read it to each other, and it was a great bond. It was an escape for us. So that was...

COURIC: Something special you'll always share.

Miss CERAOLO: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: That's so sad, but so sweet that you had that...

Miss CERAOLO: Yeah.

COURIC: ...experience together.

Meanwhile, Roberto, tell me--you're 10 years old.

Mr. ROBERTO PAGAN (Harry Potter Contest Finalist): Yeah.

COURIC: Yeah. Tell me why you're the Biggest Harry Potter Fan.

Mr. PAGAN: Well, because I really enjoy reading his books. And,
well, that's pretty much it.

COURIC: You just like them.

Mr. PAGAN: Yeah.

COURIC: OK, that's good enough for me.

All right. So, put on your wizard hats, you guys, because to prove
you're really the true Harry Potter fans, I'm going to do some quick trivia questions.

When did Harry first meet Chow Chang? Cho Chang. I'm sorry. Not Chow Chang.Sorry.

Miss CERAOLO: In third year.

COURIC: All right. Where?

Miss CERAOLO: Thir--in third year, on a quidditch field.

COURIC: Very good. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

Question number two: Who turned Draco Malfoy into a ferret?

Miss CERAOLO: Mad-Eye Moody.

COURIC: Yeah. All right. Julia, two for two.

All right, you know, Harry Potter always has a little random luck
that helps him get through the day; so under your chair there are packages, and in one of the boxes you will have Harry Potter's glasses, or at least a facsimile thereof.
And that will determine who gets to fly to London for a four-day Harry Potter extravaganza. Go ahead, open them up. Of course, they're wrapped a little too well. That's why on movies, you know, they wrap the top and wrap the bottom, so they can just go, `Doy.' But we haven't quite achieved that yet. So.

Ms. MARCUS: They're doing very well.

Miss McAFEE: OK, I'm just going to rip it.

COURIC: Keep--keep going. Yeah, rip away, that's how I open
presents. OK, Kaitlin, go ahead, open it up. You guys, open them up all at the same time. And--oh, gosh, there's another layer.

Ms. MARCUS: Ah, look.

COURIC: Oh, look. Oh, congratulations, Kaitlin.

Ms. MARCUS: Oh, my gosh, Kaitlin.

COURIC: Oh, congratulations, Julia. Oh, congratulations, Roberto. I love when a plan comes together. You're all going to London.

Ms. MARCUS: You're all winners of the Harry Potter: Why I Love
Reading Harry Potter Contest.

COURIC: Congratulations to all three of you. And we should
mention--that's good, Kaitlin, put them over your glasses, that works.

Miss McAFEE: I'm a little more than four eyes now.

COURIC: We should mention--you look like me reading at the beach.
Anyway,congratulations. And we should mention there are actually a total of 10 Harry Potter winners. Their names are on our Web site. We're going to get in on all the action as w--as well. TODAY'S HARRY POTTER TOTAL TRIVIA CONTEST is no Triwizard Tournament with dragons, eggs, or mazes, but it's a test nonetheless. And if you're under the age of 13 and have a parent willing to be your partner, then tell us in 50 words or less why you think you deserve to hold court on the
plaza. You must be available to come to New York City for the contest
on Thursday, July 14th. You can get all the 411 on the HARRY
POTTER--POTTER TOTAL TRIVIA TOURNAMENT...

Ms. MARCUS: Good job.

COURIC: ...at today.msnbc.com.

Congratulations. Thanks for coming by.

Ms. MARCUS: Good for you.

COURIC: And, Barbara, thanks to you as well.

Ms. MARCUS: Thank you.

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