The worry, when faced with the follow-up to books as good as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (both winners of the Nestlé Smarties Prize Gold Award), is that it won't be as good. With J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban any concerns are banished from page one. This, the third in the series, continues where the previous two left off and is a fantastic adventure of mystery, magic and mayhem combined with liberal doses of humour and plenty of suspense.
Forced to do his homework in the dead of night and forbidden to refer to his magic skills or his life at Hogwarts school, Harry Potter is forced to endure the summer holidays with the dreaded Dursleys. The arrival of Aunt Marge is the final straw and, in a fit of anger, Harry breaks all the rules and casts a spell on her, causing her to blow up like a balloon. Running away from his dreaded relatives, Harry expects to be expelled from Hogwarts for his blatant flaunting of the rule not to use magic outside term time. However, the arrival of the mysterious Knight Bus and a meeting with Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, result in Harry enjoying the rest of the holidays in the wonderful surroundings of the Leaky Cauldron.
The escape of Sirius Black--one time friend of Harry's parents, implicated in their murder and follower of "You- Know-Who"--from Azkaban, has serious implications for Harry for it would appear that Black is bent on revenge against Harry for thwarting "You-Know-Who". Back at Hogwarts, Harry's movements are restricted by the presence of the Dementors--guards from Azkaban on the look out for Black--however, this doesn't stop him throwing himself into the new Quidditch season and going about his normal business--or at least attempting to. Despite warnings Harry is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Sirius Black--how could this one-time close friend of his parents become the cause of their deaths?
And why does the presence of the Dementors have such a devastating effect on him, causing him to hear the last moments of his mother's life?
With another four Harry Potter novels planned, Jo Rowling is creating a series of books which will become classics to rival C.S. Lewis'Chronicles of Narnia--books written for children but loved by adults too. (Ages 9 and up) --Philippa Reece
'I can honestly say I can't remember the last time I encountered an author who has had this effect on me. For the first time in years the book lives up to the hype perfection' Daily Express 'Extraordinarily vivid and exceptionally well-imagined' Independent on Sunday 'Rowling deserves all the plaudits that are being heaped upon her. For once, the word phenomenon is an understatement' Scotland on Sunday 'The most remarkable publishing sensation for a generation the story is told with such momentum, imagination and irrepressible humour that it can captivate both adults and children' Sunday Express