Hundreds of local Potter fans get book early

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 17, 2005

Someday, Tasha Sweeden hopes to be a detective with the Suffolk Police Department. Early Saturday morning, however, she became a different kind of problem-solver.

The 22-year-old, scheduled to graduate from the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Academy this October, tousled up her short brown hair, put on a pair of round black glasses, and picked up a white owl. She’d just become her literary hero.

&uot;Harry can overcome any challenge or temptation that’s put to him,&uot; Sweeden said, waiting outside the Chesapeake Square Mall Waldenbooks with about 200 other Harry Potter fans, many of whom were also bearing witchcraft attire, awaiting the midnight arrival of J.K. Rowling’s sixth novel about the boy wizard, &uot;Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.&uot;

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&uot;He always tries to do the right thing,&uot; Sweeden said. &uot;In my life, I try to do the same thing. He works through every obstacle, piece by piece.&uot;

As the series winds down – Rowling has said that she only plans to pen one more tale of the wizard – Potter prepares to solve his toughest puzzle yet; defeating the evil wizard Voldemort, whose Avadacadabra (if you have to ask, you never attended Hogwartz Academy with Harry and his friends) curse burned a scar into Harry’s forehead that he still carries. In the fifth book, &uot;Order of the Phoenix,&uot; readers learned of the prophecy explaining that Harry or Voldemort would have to kill the other. Rowling has also said that a main character will be killed in &uot;Prince.&uot;

Nansemond River graduate Kelli Holcomb couldn’t wait to find the answers.

&uot;I really want to know what happens,&uot; she said. &uot;I got really hooked on the movies (the next one, &uot;Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,&uot; is scheduled to hit theaters in November), and now I’m really hooked on the books. I’ll probably have (&uot;Prince&uot;) done by Monday morning.&uot;

Heather Creighton might take a bit longer – the Nansemond River student just wanted to step into Potter’s land, and stay awhile.

&uot;I like being able to escape into another world,&uot; said the 17-year-old. &uot;Reality can be horrible. In the books, things are less confusing; there’s a definite good side and a definite bad side.&uot;

Before he started reading Potter novels a few years ago, Logan Sorensen’s reading skills were on the definite bad side.

&uot;It used to be a struggle to get him to read anything,&uot; said Sorensen’s mother Tilda. &uot;Now he reads all the time. His reading average has skyrocketed; when he started, he was way below his age level, and now he’s way above.&uot;

&uot;I didn’t like reading before,&uot; said Sorensen, a student at King’s Fork High. &uot;Three or four years ago, my mom made me read ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ (the first Potter novel). Now I just want to see what happens next.&uot;