[In the following review, De Lint states that the "Harry Potter".books extend beyond the realm of fantasy and young adult literature precisely because they are books that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.] I'm a late convert to this series, but since you might be as well, I think it's worth a brief discussion. Originally published as young adult novels, the Harry Potter books have gained widespread fame outside the limits of both the fantasy and young adult fields for one good reason: they really are wonderful books that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages-And happily, there are no cliffhangers here; the novels stand up quite well, each on its own. The series begins with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. For some reason, the U.S. publisher decided to change the title from its original: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone-perhaps they thought that Americans wouldn't understand the reference? Anyway, here we meet Harry, learn a little bit about his background as a potential magician living in a world of Muggles (ordinary, non-magical folk), and briefly touch on his ten years of hellish childhood (courtesy of his aunt and uncle, who raised him with extreme ill-will), then follow along as he enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which exists on another plane of existence from our own. It's classic British boarding school fiction with the delicious twist of magic and a decidedly different curriculum. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets finds Harry as a second year student at Hogwarts and proves to be just as enchanting and entertaining as the first book-a rarity in itself, when it comes to books in a series. By the third book, readers are welcoming back old friends, hissing at the recurring villains, cheering Harry's Quidditch team (Quidditch is a kind of aerial basketball played on broomsticks with five balls), and completely enthralled with the new mysteries that arise. And let me add here that Rowling is one of the few authors who, while playing fair, has still taken me by surprise with who the villain is in each book. But it's young adult, you say. Yes, Harry's only eleven when the series begins, but these are not your regular young adult novels, though they do bear a superficial resemblance. They're smart and clever, funny and serious, but most importantly, they're not written down to any particular age group, so that they can be equally enjoyed by readers of all ages. Harry isn't a little adult either; he's subject to the awful insecurities that plague all children. But he's also a gifted child, so the ways he deals with his adventures don't feel out of character. Rowling plans seven books in the series, one for each year Harry is at Hogwarts. Each year Harry grows a little more mature and the books reflect that in how the characters react to and deal with situations, so it'll be like watching your children, or those of a neighbor or sibling, growing up. Yet the real draw is Rowling's language, her grasp of character (and caricature), and her ability to write humorously without being slapstick or cynical. In fact the only thing that surprises me about the success of the Harry Potter books is why they've been so readily embraced by such a wide spectrum of readers, while Diana Wynne Jones, who's been doing this also, and with as much warmth and skill, for so many years, is still best known only within the fantasy and young adult fields. No disrespect to Rowling; she deserves all the kudos the books are receiving. But I'm hoping the door she's opened might also allow some of Jones's wonderful books to slip through into wider acceptance as well.