Eleven-year-old Harry Potter is an orphaned English boy forced to live with his horrible aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, and their chubby, spoiled son Dudley. They treat Harry cruelly and dislike him so much that they don't even celebrate his birthday.
But things begin to look up when a mysterious letter arrives for Harry via an owl messenger. It's a letter announcing that he has been accepted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Harry is led away from the Dursleys for a bit by a kindly and very large escort from Hogwarts --- Hagrid, the school's gamekeeper. Hagrid makes sure that Harry purchases all his proper school supplies (wand, cloaks, etc.) from the magical shops in Diagon Alley. Hagrid also tells Harry all about his deceased parents, James and Lily Potter, a legendary wizard and witch who also attended Hogwarts. Though it's sad to think about the parents he longs for, Harry is happy to learn that magic runs in his family!
Even though he has to go back to the awful Dursleys' from Diagon Alley, Harry can't help but be excited about his new school --- and he can't wait until September 1st, the day he leaves for Hogwarts.
On the big day, the Dursley's happily drop Harry off at King's Cross station where he catches the Hogwarts Express train at platform nine and three quarters. On board Harry meets Ron Weasley and aspiring witch Hermione Granger who will become his closest friends. Harry is amazed when the train stops at a huge castle; he can't believe this magical looking place is really Hogwarts.
As a first year student, Harry does well in his classes and also becomes the star of his dormitory's Quidditch team (kind of like soccer played on broomsticks high in the air). But not everything is jolly. In between classes in potions, spells and flying, Harry also must face some wicked and dangerous enemies like Draco Malfoy and the wizard who killed his parents, Voldemort. Harry also uncovers a mystery --- the location of the sorcerer's stone, a magical stone that can change metal into gold and provides a special potion that allows people to live forever.
Will Harry triumph over evil? Will his dormitory, Gryffindor, win the Quidditch championship? Come along on this magical adventure and find out.
J.K. Rowling has created a bewitching world that seems ever so real. We think you'll agree that her fast-paced story is hard to put down.
Reviewed by Shannon Maughan on October 1, 1999
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1