Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For some, Pottermania is a bore

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J. Adam Fenster⁄The Gazette
Bethesda’s Trevor Berry, 5, awaits the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the beloved series, late Friday night. Berry was one of hundreds of fans waiting for the book to go on sale at the Borders bookstore at White Flint Mall in North Bethesda.
Even as Pottermania reached fever pitch last weekend with the release of the final novel in the ‘‘Harry Potter” series, there remain kids who happily live without ‘The Boy Who Lived.’

A stone’s throw from the dozens of children clambering to profess their love for the series to a reporter at Bohrer Park at Summit Hall Farm in Gaithersburg on Thursday afternoon was a 10-year-old boy who said he just wasn’t into Potter anymore.

Nolan Yager, of Bethesda, glided on inline skates while he and his mother Jane waited for the Skate Park to open.

It was shortly after reading the fifth and longest book in the series, ‘‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” that Nolan said he gave up books about wizards for non-fiction biographies about George Washington and the legendary skater Rodney Mullen.

‘‘I think they thirst for, ‘What’s my place in the world,’” said Jane Yager. ‘‘But what captures their interest more, then, is someone that’s gone through the stuff they have. Harry Potter is very contrived.”

‘‘Mom, they just want to sell stuff to us,” Nolan chimed in.

There are more than 120 million Harry Potter books in print in the United States since the seven-book series about the boy wizard’s journey began in 1995, according to a statement by publisher Scholastic.

Still, the unwelcome impression of being sold-to is a sentiment felt by other kids, like 12-year-old Olivia Collins of Gaithersburg, who said she prefers ‘‘realistic fiction” and mystery books.

‘‘I don’t really understand why everybody is so obsessed with it,” she said during a telephone interview Thursday. ‘‘I think the only reason is because they have good marketing.”

Her mother, Laura Collins, said she has had difficulty on occasion finding kids that truly love the series.

‘‘I think I’m very typical. The people that’re that fanatical about Harry Potter, they’re more at the fanatic end, that’s not the norm,” she said. ‘‘People enjoy it, but it’s not the be-all, end-all you would think from what they present.”

Tally Balakirsky, of North Potomac, said it’s possible that the throngs of children enchanted by Harry Potter are drawn to the books as a way of keeping in touch with classmates and friends.

‘‘I think kids have to get attached to some idea,” Balakirsky said in a telephone interview Monday. ‘‘It’s a conversation piece for their peers.”

She said her daughter Gita, 7, is a bookworm in her own right, moving through series such as ‘‘Nancy Drew” and ‘‘The Boxcar Children.” She’s never found her way to the Harry Potter craze.

But she is among a vast number of children eclipsed by Harry Potter and who are obsessed with the made-for-TV program ‘‘High School Musical” and its spin-offs, Balakirsky said.

‘‘It’s primarily a matter of what you’re exposed to,” she said.