When my oldest daughter was about two, Bob asked for books for Christmas. My friend Dianna suggested that I include one he could read to the kids as they got older. She recommended Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, saying “I think this series is going to be really good”. To say these books were a special part of my girls' childhood would be an understatement. Madeleine eagerly anticipated each new release of both the books and the movies. When the fifth film opened, I told her we’d have to wait to see it. I dragged her out of the house to run errands…and walked her right into the theater to see the movie the day it was released. She was so excited, she bounced in her seat until the film began. Reading the seventh book was harrowing – Madeleine came to find me after the first few chapters looking stricken, saying “Something bad happened”. I grabbed the book whenever she put it down so I’d be up to speed and we could discuss the plot as it unfolded. We all know that Harry was fine in the end.
Molly was enthusiastic about Harry Potter and started reading the series as soon as she was able. The girls and their four best friends decorated t-shirts before the premiere of the final movie. They were giddy that afternoon, hyped up on homemade butterbeer.
Daniel was too small to enjoy much of the initial excitement of the series, but he quickly caught up about a year ago. He has read the books and seen the films (more times than I can count). I frequently field Harry Potter questions from my little guy and knew that he would appreciate one particular Parisian landmark. In the first book, Voldemort is trying desperately to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone, a magical object that can give a person everlasting life. In the novel, it created by alchemist Nicolas Flamel. Nicolas Flamel was a real person, an alchemist who dedicated his wealth to helping others. His house is the oldest one in all of Paris and was just a few blocks away from our apartment. Daniel was thrilled to visit the home.
On the last night of the trip, Bob and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner in the Auberge Nicolas Flamel, a fine dining restaurant that has nothing to do with Harry Potter. The two of us enjoyed a delicious. creative five-course tasting menu with wine in their elegant dining room. Highlights included fois gras topped with strawberry confit and current gelee, scallops with lobster foam and salmon roe and sea bass served over black rice. It was a lovely way to end our stay in Paris.
Although the first book was given to Bob, he didn't have time to read the whole series. Madeleine would frequently check his progress anyway. I coached him to tell her “Harry is in peril and they are all worried about Voldemort”. That seemed to cover all plot points and kept Dad out of trouble.