Welcome Back, Potter

welcome back potterIt’s Harry Potter week at Pop Goes the Page! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 will be released this weeked, and there will be launch parties and countdown events galore. I thought it would be helpful to compile all of Pop’s Harry Potter posts and projects, just in case you find something that might come in handy at your wizardly celebration.

Perhaps our most popular Harry Potter post is Magical Miniatures. It’s an interview with Sally Wallace, a miniaturist and artist who constructs astounding Harry Potter dollhouses and miniature scenes. Feast your eyes on Hogwarts!

greenhouse1 smallerHowever, if your magical real estate aspirations need to be on a slightly smaller scale, try this Gothic votive castle. See the greenhouse to the left of the castle? Peek inside and you’ll see that the mandrakes are ready for re-potting!

greenhouse3 smallerHerbology continues with this little dried herb amulet

amulet smallerAnd these dashing, yet simple, snapdragons. You only need a paper cup, construction paper, and pipe cleaners (more ambitious gardeners can try these magical “growing” box gardens).

get-snappy smallerAnother Harry Potter post I dearly love is this suitcase boggart. I designed it for a Defense Against the Dark Arts table. The secret to making the suitcase thump and bump convincingly? A battery-operated pet toy called “The Weazel Ball!”

the-perfect-boggart smallerWe’ve also made plenty of dragon and monster projects in the past, from this food chain to a black light tin foil dragon. Representing the forces of good, however, is this phoenix puppet. You can make it out of a tissue box, and stroll around with it cradled in your arms.

fantastical-phoenix smallerMoving on to school supplies, try these simple, but immensely popular, quill pens.

quill-pens smallerAlso necessary for any Hogwarts student is an inexpensive PVC pipe wands (with your choice of core, of course). There are also flying books, and things that fly OUT of books.

these butterflies can book

And don’t forget your wrist owl to deliver the mail (but not a Howler)! This handsome little fellow is made out of a toilet paper tube and pipe cleaner.


Once your school supplies are assembled, hit the classroom with the Chemistry of Magic!

chemistry-of-magic-web- smallerOr, learn some smaller spells. A pair of Slytherin students joined us at our School for Scoundrels program and taught kids Aparecium, Furnunculus, and Inanimatus Conjures. But Confundo was definitely the most popular.

There’s also this post, which features a DIY Harry Potter party put together by Hope, our kid tester. Here, you’ll find inexpensive decor ideas, templates, recipes, and useful links.

brick wallAnd what would Harry Potter be without some treats? Check out the gourmet pumpkin pasties crafted by Melody Edwards, a Princeton University graduate who is currently in culinary school. They were yummy. Yum-MMY!

happy birthday harryThose wanting a more academic perspective on Harry Potter (not to mention a look at some goodies from our rare books vaults) should check out the Harry Potter and the Mystery of the Author’s Name post on Cotsen’s curatorial blog. It shows the different ways J.K. Rowling’s name has been spelled (and misspelled!) over the years.

If you’re wondering about the image that started this post (like how I magically manage to appear 9 years younger?), it’s a promo photo from a Harry Potter event we hosted in 2007. You can read more about the image, as well as some of my hints for promoting programs, here.

School for Scoundrels

school for scoundrelsBehold the vilest collection of literary villains ever to gather in an esteemed place of learning! In other words, here is the cast from School for Scoundrels, a program we hosted at my library. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a complete listing of who’s who!

School for Scoundrels began as a tribute to the various villains who hounded our favorite heroes. Then I thought…what if all the villains belonged to an elite school? What if kids could attend the school and learn all sorts of nefarious, gross, and classically villainous things? A program was born!

In addition to mingling with the school’s famous “alumni,” kids practiced ciphers and codes, started a petri dish bacteria farm, produced a nasty “severed finger” gift box (and received instructions for more gross out activities to try at home), met Aragog the live tarantula (and made a dangling arachnid of their own!), learned how to detect a lie (and fool a polygraph machine with hot and cold packs), built a secret lair (suggestions: classic castle, wooden fort, tank, gingerbread cottage, innocuous bungalow), created an evil nickname (aided with our helpful hint sheet), swashbuckled with pirates, designed a wanted poster (with caricature assistance from Kemy Lin, a very talented student artist), and got into magical mischief with some select Harry Potter spells (the most laugh-inducing was Confundo).

They also practiced cape twirling and evil laughter. The cape twirling was my favorite, especially with names like “The Classic Reveal,” the “Side Arm Sweep,” the “Full-Extension Glide,” and the “Dramatic Egress.” When all the courses were complete, kids earned their very own School for Scoundrels diploma:

diplomaThis program wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous assistance of Princeton University student actors, who were recruited and coached by my student assistant, Sarah Paton. They were SO game to dress up and stay in character the entire time. But they also knew when to take it easy on the younger (or more timid) kids. For a program of this nature, that’s really important.

school for scoundrelsTop row, left to right: Professor Moriarty (Matt Trujil), Iago (Gregory Kufera), Wicked Witch of the West (Katie McGunagle), Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella (Kerry Brodie), Eye of Sauron (Gideon Grossman), Evil Queen from Snow White (Julie Chang), Slytherin Students (Kemy Lin, Vivian Qin), IT (Dana Sheridan). Bottom row, left to right: Long John Silver (Ambika Vora), Captain Hook (Sarah Paton). Well, Mrs. Silver and Mrs. Hook, respectively.

p.s. – You might notice the name tags. They said things like “Hello! My name is The Evil Queen.” Parents LOVED them!