It's hard to fall in love with an earnest, appealing young hero like Harry Potter and then to watch helplessly as he steps into terrible danger! And in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the much anticipated sequel to the award-winning Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, he is in terrible danger indeed. As if it's not bad enough that after a long summer with the horrid Dursleys he is thwarted in his attempts to hop the train to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin his second year. But when his only transportation option is a magical flying car, it is just his luck to crash into a valuable (but clearly vexed) Whomping Willow. Still, all this seems like a day in the park compared to what happens that fall within the haunted halls of Hogwarts.
Chilling, malevolent voices whisper from the walls only to Harry, and it seems certain that his classmate Draco Malfoy is out to get him. Soon it's not just Harry who is worried about survival, as dreadful things begin to happen at Hogwarts. The mysteriously gleaming, foot-high words on the wall proclaim, "The Chamber of Secrets Has Been Opened. Enemies of the Heir, Beware." But what exactly does it mean? Harry, Hermione, and Ron do everything that is wizardly possible--including risking their own lives--to solve this 50-year-old, seemingly deadly mystery. This deliciously suspenseful novel is every bit as gripping, imaginative, and creepy as the first; familiar student concerns--fierce rivalry, blush-inducing crushes, pedantic professors--seamlessly intertwine with the bizarre, horrific, fantastical, or just plain funny. Once again, Rowling writes with a combination of wit, whimsy, and a touch of the macabre that will leave readers young and old desperate for the next installment. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
What makes the Harry Potter series so successful? Maybe it's the fact that J.K. Rowling doesn't write children's books, she writes children's stories, more in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm than Dr. Seuss. The exploits of Harry and his friends captivate even the shortest attention spans by engaging the imagination with vivid characters and fast-moving action, instead of trying to merely catch the eye with colorful pictures or pop-up effects. Not surprisingly, the Potter tales sound wonderful read aloud, and adapt to the audiobook format extremely well. Broadway actor Jim Dale's impressive vocal range gives each character in the book its own distinctive voice--a considerable task, given the pantheon of witches, warlocks, ghosts, ghouls, dwarves, and elves that Harry encounters in his second outing. And thankfully, since the book is read unabridged, no one's favorite character is omitted. Engaging for children without being childish, the audio version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is worthy addition to the deservedly popular series. (Running time: 9 hours, 6 cassettes) --Andrew Nieland
Harry Potter is back at Hogwarts for his second year, but someone -- or something -- is turning the students to stone. Is it Dobby the house-elf, who warned Harry not to return to school? Draco Malfoy, as noxious as ever? Kindly Hagrid, whose past is finally revealed? Or the person everyone most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself! This gorgeous collector's edition features a rich leather cover with gold stamping, gilt edging on the pages, and the elegant chapter openers and interior design that readers have come to expect from the Harry Potter series.