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Harry Potter weaves his magic around the globe
By Paul Majendie, Reuters, 6/21/2003
LONDON -- Harry Potter wove his magic around the world on Saturday as millions of fans rushed to find out what happens next to the teenage wizard with the turbo-charged broomstick.
From Sydney to New York, children delved eagerly into "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" after what was billed as the world's biggest book launch.
Author JK Rowling, who created the planet's most famous wizard, was thrilled the plot had not leaked out.
"I don't think anything crucial has got out so I am happy," she said after visiting an Edinburgh bookshop at midnight, the witching hour when book five was released.
"I think it is miraculous, given the number of books that have been produced and the number of people who have been involved, that everything hasn't been revealed," she said.
With children brought to fever pitch by a three-year wait for the latest instalment and a meticulously orchestrated marketing campaign, the weighty tome looks set to become the fastest-selling book of all time.
Children greeted the return of their hero with wide-eyed wonder.
"I like Harry Potter because he deals with danger," said eight-year-old New Zealander Matty Russell.
In Kuala Lumpur, 14-year-old Maryam Nekmat, eyes shining under her Malay headscarf, said: "I've waited months for this."
When asked in New York to explain the global obsession with the book, eight-year-old Ondine Vinao said it was "because you always want what you can't get."
Toys 'R' Us in Times Square opened its doors on the stroke of midnight after an ear-shattering loud countdown as several hundred parents, kids and curious onlookers waited outside.
In Detroit, Aaron Keteiyan, 8, was bubbling with excitement over reports that one of the main characters dies. "I have heard there's going to be a lot of violence. I like violence."
WORLDWIDE SPELL WOVEN
The boy wizard is a global publishing phenomenon. The first four books sold almost 200 million copies in 55 languages and 200 countries. An estimated 13 million copies of book five have been printed.
New Zealand marked the launch with a bid to set a new world record for the longest ever children's book reading. Prime Minister Helen Clark read aloud at the 27-hour marathon.
In South Africa, more than 500 children and adults converged on a Johannesburg bookshop to get their hands on the book.
Some Australians drove for hours along isolated, desert roads to get their copy, others journeyed in a special 14- carriage Hogwarts Express steam train. And the worldwide spell woven by the teenage wizard was perfectly encapsulated by eight-year-old Madeleine Chapman.
Dressed in a wizard's hat, she stood in silence at the entrance to Sydney's main railway station, clutching her book and reading. Not even the flame-throwing fire eaters nearby could distract her from Harry's latest adventure.
Additional reporting by Catherine Walbridge, Jodie Ginsberg, Michael Perry, Julie MacIntosh, Julie Steenhuysen and Michael Ellis