“Chamber of Secrets” Illustrated Edition Review

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Oct 14, 2016

Posted by: Catherine | Comments

Art, Books, Cover Art, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Publishers, Scholastic

Last week, Bloomsbury and Scholastic released the illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets. Jim Kay told fans and fansites, through a special video message, talking of the different techniques he adapted for Chamber of Secrets. After waiting patiently through Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping, and taking time to dive into the beautifully illustrated world of Potter, we can finally give a review! (Click to enlarge images)

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The front and back cover feature the Herbology adjunct of Hogwarts; Neville would be so pleased. Those mandrakes do come in handy throughout the book. The Herbology green house is a good introduction to Jim Kay’s illustrations for this latest book. It blends in well with the style used for Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone.

 

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Even more exciting is the new content. Jim Kay wasn’t lying when he said the images would contain continuity with those from the previous book, but take on character and personality all on their own in Chamber of Secrets. For the first time, we see the beloved Molly Weasley–and not just as a character portrait, in action as a doting mother.

 

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I found it heart warming looking at a sketch of Mrs. Weasley pouring over Hogwarts letters with her youngest son. As many of us appreciate the beauty of Jim Kay’s drawings as adults, this image really harkened back to the idea of Harry Potter being read for generations, shared between grown Potterheads and their children, and the illustrated editions being used to bring the magic of reading and Harry Potter to little ones.

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In addition to Mrs. Weasley, we also get full-page portraits of new Hogwarts characters. Professor Sprout, in all of her Herbology glory, surrounded by a variety of creatures and plants, was a particular favorite of mine. Those mandrakes look awfully mischievous!

 

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Jim Kay’s rendition of Moaning Myrtle (Myrtle Elizabeth Warren). Though it may be hard to push Shirley Henderson’s Moaning Myrtle from mind (the constant struggle of book canon vs. movie canon), one can see familiar traits to the Moaning Myrtle we recognize from the silver screen, yet she is distinctly her own character.

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As the books continue to be illustrated, we get to watch beloved characters grow and mature as Jim Kay imagines them. There are beautiful new portraits of characters from past books, including a very up-tight Hermione, with that determined expression as she apparently heads off to study.

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Jim Kay’s work with ghost drawings was breath taking for Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, and Chamber of Secrets was no disappointment. The leader of the Headless Horsemen literally intrudes into the block of text as he crashes through Nearly Headless Nick’s Death Day celebration.

 

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Leave it to Jim Kay to make such a rotten, smelly, dark celebration appear beautiful and fascinating.

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As seen above, there are many pages in Chamber of Secrets that represent the darker side of the story by literally making the pages of the book dark. As Hagrid takes a stroll through Knockturn Alley, one could almost shiver.

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But it isn’t just the pictures that are dark. The inverted white text on a black page adds to the dark style of the illustrations, as well as the reading experience.

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In addition to more pages of inverted font and page color, the structure of text-to-image is completely redesigned in Chamber of Secrets. An  example, Harry is peaking through the text (or the wardrobe) to Draco on the other side of the page at Borgin and Burkes.

 

 

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Having the images intwine with the text and replicate the tone of the story truly enhances the reading experience. As Harry goes down into the Chamber of Secrets, readers feel like they take that journey with him.

 

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As the text frames the pictures, it really emphasizes the images and their role in story-telling in a whole new way. The Sword of Godric Gryffindor shines through the darkness on the page as it gleams through the folds of the sorting hat.

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Another example of this, is turning the page and only to find a pair of large green eyes peering at you like they were peering at Harry through the bushes at Number 4 Privet Drive.

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Even in pages with very little illustration, slugs and pixies scatter across the open book, intruding into the text as they make havoc within the story itself.

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One cannot deny, that even Jim Kay’s full page illustration with no text can give you the creepy crawlies (beware arachnophobics!)

 

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Intermixed with the new style, structure, layout and images that the new book brings, it also brings back beautiful landscapes of our favorite scenes, and impressive brush strokes of color.

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Seeing the beauty of Hogwarts in the winter through Jim Kay’s imagination, in addition to the previous images of Hogwarts in Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, makes us feel like we got our Hogwarts letters.

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All the splashes of color and magic were well worth the wait and the galleons!

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The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.