Harry Potter parties brewing this week at Changing Hands

An eighth book (a play script), “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” will be in stores on July 31, Harry’s birthday. Celebrations are brewing for adults and families this week at Changing Hands Bookstores.

Remembering Harry Potter’s Gifts

HarryPotter-CursedChild-CoverEndings are hard, even when—maybe especially when—you know they’re coming. But can endings be gifts as well? Most beginnings are.

My youngest son was 11, like Harry, when “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was published. He and I were always an uncomfortable pair, constantly wearing on each other like ill-fitting, mismatched shoes.

I was amazed that the Potter books could create harmony between us, if only for an hour or so a night, for as many days as it took to read each one aloud. As we shared our delight in Hogwarts and its magical inhabitants, our together-time increased. We began to hunt for clues, second-guess plot lines and try to solve the many mysteries. Who was R.A.B.? Was Crookshanks a cat or an animagus? What was Snape’s secret? Our partnership was tentative, but it was a start, and I was grateful for the gift.

So my kid grew up with J.K. Rowling’s kids. He had real, nonfiction, friends, too, and they were all in and out of my life, my house and my heart for nearly a decade. I knew them well and loved them more. And I knew that someday soon, I would lose them.

By July 2007, my son was away at college, so I mailed him a copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” This time, for the first time, he and I read separate books in separate cities, silently. Two hard endings, but I knew that love meant letting go. And, of course, so did wise Ms. Rowling.

Our last image of Harry was not as the victorious adolescent Chosen One, but as a husband and a dad. A brilliant choice, because adventures end and time marches on. The greatest existential struggle eventually runs its course, and even heroes need to pay the rent. The small pains and joys of family and the whispered curses and blessings of the everyday are what really matter. Even wizards must find magic in the ordinary. Harry had given us one final gift.

It’s been nine years since then, and three generations have traveled the road between London and Hogwarts, only to have the adventure end on Platform 9 and 3/4. But something wonderful has happened. It’s not really the end after all!

I think J.K. Rowling must have missed her storybook children as much as we did. She wrote a stage play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two” to welcome them back.

The story takes place in the now of “Nineteen Years Later,” the “Hallows” coda. But the past is never truly past, and its darkness reaches out for the adult Harry’s youngest son, Albus Severus. The details of the story line are a closely guarded secret until opening night, but the published play, officially Book 8 in the Potter canon, will be available as a script book, which means it will be in dialogue format, rather than novel form.

Just like old times, and just in time to celebrate Harry’s birthday on July 31,  Changing Hands Bookstore is hosting a trio of parties to mark the occasion. The first will be a Midnight Release Party at the Phoenix store, beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 30. This event is sold out! Magical activities will ensue until 12:01 a.m., when “The Cursed Child” will be available for purchase.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 31, the Phoenix and Tempe stores will host family-friendly Harry Potter parties, marking Harry’s birthday. The butterbeer will be limited to the kid-friendly variety, but the fun will be suitable for all ages.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” release party and birthday bash

9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, July 31
• Changing Hands Phoenix, 300 W. Camelback Road.
• Changing Hands Tempe, 6428 S. McClintock Drive

Tickets are $29.99 plus tax for a family of four and include a “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” book. Visit changinghands.org.

Special Needs Resource Fair, 2016, Raising Arizona Kids magazine, RAKmagazine, kids, Arizona