The summer before his third year of school, Harry Potter accidentally uses magic on his aunt and has to run away from home. While he is worried about getting expelled, it turns out there is a much larger danger, one that no one wants Harry to know about. But, as usual, Harry knows more than he should. He learns that the convicted mass murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison, Azkaban, and is coming for Harry Potter. Black was a follower of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and some think Black believes that killing Harry will bring the Dark Lord back to life.
Extra security precautions are taken once Harry arrives at school, all with the goal of keeping Harry safe within Hogwarts. But Harry is much more eager to sneak out of Hogwarts, as he longs to go on the school trips to Hogsmeade, a nearby wizarding town. With the help of his father’s invisibility cloak and a magical map, Harry soon has free reign of the castle. But will this newfound freedom be his downfall with Sirius Black on the prowl?
The third installment of the Harry Potter series raises the bar yet again, with an exciting and slightly more complicated plot that is full of exciting twists and turns. Our favorite characters are back, and we have a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor named Lupin. Lupin is an old friend of Harry’s father, but he may be hiding a secret of his own.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will keep readers guessing until the very end. This story continues the theme of not leaping to conclusions based on someone’s appearance or background, and subtlety explores what true friendship looks like. The themes, plot, and language of this book are slightly more mature than the first two books, as the Harry Potter series gradually grows in complexity throughout the seven books. However, this novel will still be appropriate for most elementary-aged students. There is also an illustrated version of this novel that will further engage reluctant readers with beautiful, full-page illustrations.
- Malfoy insults a hippogriff, a magical creature that is half horse and half bird. The hippogriff scratches him in retaliation. “It happened in a flash of steely talons; Malfoy let out a high-pitched scream and next moment, Hagrid was wrestling Buckbeak back into his collar as he strained to get at Malfoy, who lay curled in the grass, blood blossoming over his robes.”
- Malfoy bullies Ron and Harry. Eventually Ron “finally cracked and flung a large slippery crocodile heart at Malfoy, which hit him in the face.”
- When Malfoy makes fun of Hagrid, Hermione slaps him. “Harry and Ron both made furious moves toward Malfoy, but Hermione got there first—SMACK! She had slapped Malfoy across the face with all the strength she could muster. Malfoy staggered.”
- Ron is kidnapped and when they try to follow, Harry and Hermione are attacked by the Whomping Willow. “All they could see now was one of Ron’s legs, which he had hooked around a root in an effort to stop the dog from pulling him farther underground—but a horrible crack cut the air like a gunshot; Ron’s leg had broken . . . Hermione gasped; she was bleeding too; the Willow had cut her across the shoulder.”
- When Harry comes face to face with the man responsible for his parent’s murder, “A boiling hate erupted in Harry’s chest, leaving no place for fear. For the first time in his life, he wanted his wand back in his hand, not to defend himself, but to attack . . . to kill.”
- Harry, Ron, and Hermione fight with Sirius Black. “Hermione was screaming; Ron was yelling; there was a blinding flash as the wands in Black’s hand sent a jet of sparks into the air that missed Harry’s face by inches . . . But Black’s free hand had found Harry’s throat – “
- Harry, Ron, and Hermione come face to face with a werewolf. “As the werewolf wrenched itself free of the manacle binding it, the dog seized it about the neck and pulled it backward . . . They were locked, jaw to jaw, claws ripping at each other – ”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Aunt Marge drinks wine with dinner. “Aunt Marge had already had quite a lot of wine. Her huge face was very red.” After dinner, “Uncle Vernon brought out a bottle of brandy.”
- At a pub, the barman asks the Minister of Magic, “Will you be wanting anything? Beer? Brandy?” The minister opts for a pot of tea.
- It’s stated that Hagrid “had been drinking a lot” when he thought he was going to be fired and that “he seemed to be having difficulty getting them into focus.” What he was drinking is not specified.
- Professor Dumbledore tells Hagrid that he, “could do with a cup of tea. Or a large brandy.”
- Hagrid gets drunk while celebrating, and Harry sees him, “weaving slightly as he walked. A large bottle was swinging from his hands.”
- Damn is used once. Harry’s Aunt Marge says, “It’s damn good of Vernon and Petunia to keep you. Wouldn’t have done it myself.”
- Shut up and crap are said a few times. Ron says, “I’m not going to take any crap from Malfoy this year.”
- Bitch is said once. Aunt Marge says, “You see it all the time with dogs. If there’s something wrong with the bitch, there’ll be something wrong with the pup.”
- A magical piece of parchment calls Professor Snape an “ugly git.”
- The commentator calls a player “cheating scum” at a Quidditch match.
- Harry Potter goes to a school of wizards and is a part of an entire world of magic. His studies include transfiguration, charms, and divination. His school is in a castle with ghosts, hidden passageways, and a Whomping Willow that attacks anyone who gets too close. He encounters hippogriffs, wizards that can shapeshift into animals, and time travel. In short, Harry is surrounded by magic and supernatural occurrences every day of his life. As such, not all instances are listed here.
- Although the series revolves around magic, the story does not encourage children to try magic on their own. To cast a spell, wizards simply say a word and wave their wand. For example, saying luminos casts light.
- Professor Trelawney makes a prophecy about the Dark Lord when Harry is the only one in the room. She does not remember making the prophecy afterward. “The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant’s aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was.”
- There are ghosts in the castle that behave like regular (although transparent) people. One of Harry’s teachers is even a ghost.
by Morgan Lynn