I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone more than once (or even twice), not to mention seeing the movie a number of times. My daughter loves Harry and all his friends. At eight, she isn’t old enough to see all the movies yet, or read the books. A friend a few years back recommended the audio books, and since we have been doing a bit of driving around this summer I thought we’d give the first novel a go. I didn’t think I was really in the mood to “read” it all over again, but the amazing work of Jim Dale changed all of that. He makes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone come alive in a way that rivals the printed word and the movie, although some of his vocals, especially those of Hagrid and Harry’s uncle Vernon Dursely, seem to be influenced by the movie’s actors, Robbie Coltrane and Richard Griffiths respectively.
Dale is so convincing in the prose passages and character voices that at times it is easy to forget that you are listening to just one person. From Wikipedia:
To millions of fans in the United States, Jim Dale is the “voice” of Harry Potter. He has recorded all seven books in the Harry Potter series, and as a narrator he has won two Grammy Awards, seven Grammy Nominations and a record ten Audie Awards … He is also the narrator for the Harry Potter video games, and for many of the interactive “extras” on the Harry Potter DVD releases. He also holds two Guinness World Records: one for having created and recorded 146 different character voices for one audiobook, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and one for occupying the first six places in the Top Ten Audio Books of America and Canada 2005.
As much as some of J.K. Rowling’s character names become a little twee for me after a while (Phyllida Spore, Vindictus Viridian, Arsenus Jigger, Quirinus Quirrell) I have to admit that Dale has helped me fall in love with Harry Potter all over again. I’ve always felt the first book was her best, as it probably received the most solicitous attention from editors. But it is fun again to hear Harry encounter Hogwarts and Hermione and Ron and everything else for the first time. Rowling undeniably created a wonderful world, and as inspired as it might have been by authors like Roald Dahl or P.L. Travers, it is still an amazing achievement. For our first venture into audiobook territory I’m now glad that we chose something so familiar and loved. And as Dale has done the entire series I’m tempted to press on. I’m not sure, however that even Jim Dale could get me through the last book and its endless forest camping trip, but we’ll see.
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