5 Reasons to Get the Illustrated Harry Potters (and 3 Not to)

The illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released October 8, 2019, and I was at my local bookstore with bells on the morning they became available. The illustrations by Jim Kay are beautiful, but because of the time it takes to create these masterpieces, they’re released once a year.

When I heard about this illustrated edition, I knew I had to have it. I already had the entire Harry Potter series in the iconic Scholastic version, but I had purchased them second-hand and they were…loved. It went beyond crinkled pages or a discolored cover. Over time, readers had written dedications in the front, or little bits of encouragement to the characters (my favorite: a note of astonishment when Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix a bitch at the Battle of Hogwarts).

Right now my bookshelf is split: I have the first four books in Jim Kay’s version, and the last three are well-paged Scholastic hardcovers.

As much as I love the illustrated edition, after reading all four available books, I don’t think it’s the right edition for everyone to collect. Read on to see if this edition should make your bookshelf cut. All the photos are of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

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Illustrated Edition by Jim Kay

Pros

  1. The artwork is prolific. Each chapter has multiple full-page illustrations and the entire book is littered with smaller sketches of things that would never make it into another edition (like the S.P.E.W and Potter Stinks buttons).
  2. The detail is what really makes the illustrations striking. They’re fun and quirky and make you think of the wizarding world in a new way. So, it’s not just that the dragons at the Triwizard Tournament are depicted so amazingly (you already know that from reading the book), it’s that you get a glimpse of a poster of Krum at the World Cup or the casual way Cedric holds his wand. The illustrations have called my attention to details in the text that I didn’t notice before.
  3. The books are hardcover and large-sized, so it’s more like a fabulous art book.
  4. It’s a great edition to share with younger readers who need something to look at while you’re reading aloud. My kids aren’t old enough yet, but this future plan was a big motivator for me in purchasing the books.
  5. The ribbon bookmark is nice to have. Because so many of us have read the series several times and go back to them randomly, the marker is helps you pick up where you left off, even if it was a couple of months ago.

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Cons

  1. There are unorthodox grammar choices that make it harder to read. This edition doesn’t use the oxford comma, the quotation makes are single, not double, and the editor decided to skip out on the periods after the abbreviations “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Plus, pages are double-columned.
  2. Only four books are available as of October 2019 and at this rate, you may not be able to complete your collection until 2022. If the mismatched look of your bookshelves will bother you, you may want to wait.
  3. These editions are expensive ($50 each), so you’re not going to want to throw them in a backpack or read while you eat Captain Crunch. Note: The classic edition from Scholastic is much more affordable. The paperback boxed set is $61 from Barnes and Noble or $130 for hardcover. It’s still a lot of money in one-go, but for seven new books, it’s a good deal.

In Short

This illustrated edition of Harry Potter is perfect for the hard-core fan who wants something exciting on their bookshelves and is eager to see the story through new eyes, but not the best option for a young reader who wants to carry it around and read it on their own.

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