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UP FRONT | WITH THE KIDS

Harry, the guest of honor

Snape debates, wizard rockers are enlisted to help the launch.

July 19, 2007|Amy Kaufman | Times Staff Writer

WITH the flick of a wand, bedtime will be transformed into party time when the seventh and final Harry Potter novel is released at midnight Friday. After all, if you're going to wait in line to get your hands on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- the real thing, not some pirated pages off the Internet -- you might as well enjoy yourself.

Enter the costumed crazies, magic games and, yes, even a wizard rock band as stores across Southern California gear up for festivities that even a Muggle could appreciate.

"We had thousands of people last time," says Marcy Vernier, events manager for the Barnes & Noble at the Grove, a key destination for Potter-philes in the past. This time around at its Midnight Magic Party, kiddies can get their picture snapped with live characters Harry or Hagrid, while adults can groove to the sounds of the L.A.-based band Remus Lupins, which is part of the wizard rock movement -- a musical subgenre devoted to all things Harry Potter.

The Barnes & Noble chain will also offer other Potter products for sale that evening -- including an H-Po-themed frappuccino, chess set and wand -- to help make up for the cost of the discounted book, Vernier says.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 20, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Harry Potter party: An article about Harry Potter book release parties in Thursday's Calendar Weekend gave the wrong address for Compass Books' party at 10 tonight. It is at 1565 S. Disneyland Drive, No. 102, Anaheim.

Over at Children's Book World in West Los Angeles, a magician from the Magic Castle will be on hand to teach tricks, while some may opt to "get their own scar" at the face painting booth.

"Last time, we didn't have a party," owner Sharon Hearn says, "and the next morning I saw a child lined up at 10 a.m. in a full wizard costume to get the book, and I knew we needed to have a party this time around."

Skylight Books in L.A. will have an all-night reading party, while trivia games will be the order of the night at stores such as Once Upon a Story in Long Beach and Whale of a Tale in Irvine. The bash at Dutton's in Brentwood will include a jelly bean-counting contest and costumed staff.

But with so much excitement surrounding the book's ending, might a room full of eager readers blurt out the top-secret ending once they get their hands on the story?

"I don't think kids will flip to the end to find out what happens to Harry," says Marcela Phillips, Dutton's children book buyer. "Kids really want to participate in that whole process of being surprised."

So where to get the Potter party started? Here's a selection of events around Southern California:

Friday

* Skylight Books will hold a release celebration in which you can make your own Book 7 prediction book cover or give your hypothesis on the open mike until midnight. The party continues with more H-Po during an all-night reading party that goes till 9 a.m. Saturday. Bring your own chair and pillow and find out what happens to Harry with a group of fans by your side. 10 p.m., 1818 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. (323) 660-1175.

* At Borders Torrance, the Grand Hallows Ball will include a life-size Harry Potter checkers game and a 15-foot snake cake, plus a DJ and face painter. 9:30 p.m., 3700 Torrance Blvd., Torrance. (310) 540-7000.

Other Borders stores in the area will be holding similar but smaller Grand Hallows Balls at 9:30 p.m., with activities such as Potter spelling bees and the Great Snape Debate.

* Book Soup is giving away copies of the book with the purchase of a $100 gift card to the store at its release party. 10 p.m., 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110.

* Storyopolis is holding a Diagon Alley Party and games till the wee hours. Preorder the book to receive 25% off and be entered into a raffle to score an autographed print by Mary GrandPre, the books' illustrator. 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., 12348 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 509-5600.

* Virtually all Barnes & Noble stores in Southern California will be holding events from 6 to 10 p.m. These Midnight Magic parties include activities such as photos with a faux Harry, magic shows, trivia scavenger hunts and fortunetellers. Find one near you at storelocator.barnesandnoble.com/find_a_special_event.do

* At Vroman's Bookstore, the youth bands Wild Youth and Dirty Spanglish will rock on, alongside storytelling, crafts and face painting. 10 p.m., 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 449-5320.

* Take a break at Big Sugar Bakeshop and stock up on goodies from the Honeydukes menu. Treats include pretzel wands, jelly slugs and fizzing whizzbees. Pumpkin juice and butterbeer too. 8 p.m. to midnight, 12182 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 508-5855.

* Dutton's Brentwood has magical bean counting and similar fun before it dispenses the long-awaited books at midnight. 11 p.m., 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood. (310) 476-6263.

* Preorder the book at Whale of a Tale to score an invite to the party, which will have a trivia contest, movies and a magician. 10:30 p.m., 4199 Campus Drive, Suite A, Irvine. (949) 854-8288.

* At Imagine That, play young wizard games, have your fortune told, win a prize for best costume or munch on a chocolate frog. 10 p.m., 5225 Canyon Crest, Riverside. (951) 784-0132.

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