Friday, November 19, 2010

Experiencing Harry Potter in an Entirely New Way

Library Intern Kady, our original guest poster is back! Here she tells us about her secret Harry Potter wish!

Like the other Katie, I have a Harry Potter confession to make: I want Jim Dale as my narrator. When I eventually stop a speeding bus full of escaped zoo penguins from running off a bridge and crashing into a ferry carrying a group of children and they make a movie about my life, it's Jim Dale's kindly and authoritative voice that I want explaining my innermost thoughts to the viewing audience.

I first heard Jim Dale's voice when I started watching the TV show Pushing Daisies. It was a wonderful, whimsical show where a bus full of escaped zoo penguins would have been entirely within the realm of reason and Jim Dale narrated as a benevolent omniscient presence. And like all wonderful, whimsical shows where a bus full of escaped zoo penguins could actually happen, it was canceled. After Pushing Daisies was canceled, I turned to Harry Potter audio books to get my Jim Dale fix.

As the performer for the US audio version of all seven Harry Potter voices, Jim Dale is in charge of bringing J.K. Rowling's magical world to life. For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows he created 146 distinct voices. 146! That's in the Guinness Book of World Records. But beyond remembering an insane amount of different voice inflections, Jim Dale's audio performances of Harry Potter do justice to the stories in a way that no one else can. I love the movies as much as the next person, but they can feel too big and impersonal. I'm also a quick reader, I blew through each Harry Potter as soon as I got it because I wanted to know what happened next. Even when I went back and re-read the books, I missed small moments and important details.

Gryffindor students drink
tea from a mug like this,
Listening to the audio books let me experience the Harry Potter phenomenon in a whole new way. Jim Dale's voice makes it easy to imagine that you're curled up in the living room of the Burrow with a hot cup of tea, listening to your friends recount their adventures in front of the fire. The slow, easy pace and careful emphasis means that I hear new things that I missed while reading and it makes the stories a richer and more enjoyable experience.

Like I said, I rushed rushed rushed through the books, but I've been taking my time with the audio books. I just finished the 6th and I think for now I'll hold off on starting the 7th. After all, I'm about to get a whole new movie and I never know when I'll get sick or have a long car trip and need Jim Dale's company.

Top image from here

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