The well-known children's series "Harry Potter" has a
new face, a new pet and a new name. Valerie Frankel, a San Jose State University
lecturer, is the author of "Henry Potty and the Pet Rock: An Unauthorized Harry
"I thought that the original Harry Potter series was good but a little too
dramatic," Frankel said. "I wanted to be able to write a book that I could have
On Tuesday, Frankel had a reading of her book for an audience in the Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. Library.
The book "Henry Potty and the Pet Rock" is Frankel's fourth completed novel out
of nine, and a book that only took her four months to write.
"I started writing the book when I was in England, which didn't go well with my
English roommates when I told them that I was writing a parody on their beloved
'Harry Potter' book," Frankel said.
The cover of Frankel's book states that it is for ages 2 to 222, and just like
the novel, which is geared to people of all ages, the reading held at the King
Library was for people of all ages.
"I liked the comical aspects of the book and the characters that were introduced
during the reading," said Amy Yu, a senior majoring in accounting.
The characters that were presented in Frankel's book had names influenced from a
series of characters that are already well known today.
"I have characters related to 'The Simpsons,' 'Sesame Street,' 'Narnia' and
'Harry Potter,' " Frankel said.
At the reading, Frankel read some of her favorite sections out of the book,
letting the audience get a feel for the characters and the storyline.
Frankel's book and some of the characters who were introduced were turned
completely around when compared to the original "Harry Potter" series. In the
original "Harry Potter" books, mail is usually delivered by owls. In Frankel's
book, it is delivered by flying pigs.
"I like 'Harry Potter,' so I thought this would be a good book, because it's
different," Yu said.
Not only does her story contain funny character names,
unexpected events and comedy relief, but her story also has a few
unintentional tongue twisters.
"Her version of the story contains more comedy, it is light hearted and just
has a different style," said Webster Lincoln, a sophomore majoring in
According to information about the author in the book, Frankel became the
youngest person ever to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from
Frankel, who teaches composition writing at SJSU, said, "I just write what I
enjoy and try to find ways to have fun with the characters."
Though many of the audience members were students in her class, there were
also kids that were much younger that attended.
"I did attend because it was for a class, but after hearing the reading, the
book sounds interesting," Lincoln said.
Frankel is still not sure if she will write a follow up in keeping with the
original "Harry Potter" series.
Harry Potter parody targets franchise, 8-year-olds
By: Brett Gifford
Summer is just around the corner, and for Harry Potter fans, it means a new
installment of the popular book franchise's movie series.
On Thursday, about 30 students were treated to an alternative to the "Potterverse"
in a reading by the author of "Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage:
An Unauthorized Harry Potter Parody," at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
SJSU alumna and English lecturer Valerie Estelle Frankel said she wrote the
book as the sequel to "Henry Potty and the Pet Rock," book one of her Harry
Potter parody series. The latest volume is book seven. Like J.K. Rowling,
Frankel's series is seven books long - only she said she decided to skip the
five books between the first and the seventh.
Cindy Nguyen, a senior electrical engineering major, said she wasn't really
a fan of the Harry Potter series, but she bought two copies of "Henry Potty"
to share with her sons.
"Usually I just see the movies, but this is really new," she said. "I'm glad
to see more."
The plot follows Henry Potty, with the aid of the disembodied spirit of
Professor Bumbling Bore, and his quest to gather the seven Plot Devices of
Lord Revolting's soul.
Frankel came up with parody names for several of the characters, places and
events depicted in the Harry Potter series, such as Henry's friends,
Horrendous Gangrene and Really Wimpy.
"I just looked at it and said, 'How can I tweak this?'" Frankel said. "It
took me a while to really accept that I was going to be that silly and have
humor for 8-year-olds in the title, but I did. Many 8-year-olds giggle at
just the title."
Frankel read a lengthy note from the beginning of the book about who might
be offended by the parody, warning that everybody in the room may be
However, she maintains that unlike other Potter parodies, her Harry Potter
parody is intended for 8-year-olds.
"To my surprise, all the others were dirty, even though they're messing with
a children's book," Frankel said. "And I was kind of looking at it, going,
'Who's going to be the number one audience of a book making fun of Harry
Potter?' You've got to assume it's going to be children … So, maybe we
should make something that's actually clean."
Frankel said it was difficult to get published at first because most
publishing companies were afraid of being sued.
However, no legal actions have been taken against her, she said.
Adrianna Aguilar, a sophomore aerospace engineering major, bought a copy of
"Henry Potty" at the reading.
"I actually got it for my cousin, because he's really into all the Harry
Potter books, so I thought he might get a twist out of one being funny,"
Cindy Yu, a junior, giggled when she recalled Frankel's description of gay
Professor Bumbling Bore, a reference to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's
announcement at the end of the series that the character Professor
Dumbledore was gay.
Yu said she purchased two copies of Frankel's parody for her younger
Barry Trotter, Henry Potty and Tanya Grotter: Harry Potter Parodies in
Print Written Around the World
These Book and Internet Parodies of Harry Potter Have Somehow (mostly)
Parody has always been protected under copyright law--even though there are
inroads to litigation if one of those parodies becomes a bit libelous. That
obviously only applies to depicting real people...but Harry Potter has
become so ingrained in the worldwide consciousness now--it makes anything
that parodies the stories of the world's favorite wizard-in-training a bit
suspect in what the intentions are. Many, many parodies of Harry Potter have
been done on TV shows of various kinds--with the most notable American ones
being on "The Simpsons" and "Saturday Night Live." Add to that hilarious
sketches on British and Australian TV or on various sites around the
internet. A lot of people, however, probably don't know that numerous books
have been published around the world that (in some cases) viciously parody
the plot elements of all of the real books. Most of them have received a
watchful eye from J.K. Rowling and her legal team. So far, though, many of
them haven't been forced to cease and desist. And some of them have become
Well, it doesn't just stop with the Barry Trotter series. Lots of other
authors (mostly American) have attempted to cash in on the Harry Potter book
parody craze. Another American parodist, Valerie Estelle Frankel wrote a
book called "Henry Potty and the Pet Rock (an Unauthorized Harry Potter
Parody)" that was published in August of 2006. This one has the usual Mad
Magazine name changes to the characters, but really designed for children
this time (or ages 2-222 as the book says on its cover). Many consider it
the funniest book parody of Harry Potter out there too. Here, the parodies
on Ron and Hermione are named Really Wimpy and Horendous Gangrene who attend
Chickenfeet Academy with Henry Potty. The other principals are Bumbling Bore
who goes around wearing hot pink surfer shorts as well as other clothing
associated with a person in retirement living on a beach in a warm climate.
Lord Revolting is the nemesis who does one uproarious thing in the book
that's astute to an ongoing problem in the real Harry Potter books: He loves
giving spoilers and ruining plot points throughout the story.
What's different about this one is that it also uses the metanarrative
technique as the Barry Trotter series does. In this case, the characters
have the knowledge that they're living out their actions in a book. Lord
Revolting consistently spoils cliffhanging plot elements throughout as
mentioned above. The author herself ends up walking in on the action...while
being a bit angry about having to do it.
Another interesting aspect to the book is that Frankel incorporates other
classic children's book plots into the mix. That creates a parody within a
parody with parodies of the Harry Potter characters parodying elements of
"The Wizard of Oz", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and numerous other
usual literary suspects that are vulnerable to this treatment. Frankel
basically has wide references to all kinds of pop culture in the book--also
going after TV shows and other media institutions. She also creates original
characters in the story to make this come close to being something other
than straight parody. One example of those original characters: The Wicked
Witch of the Vest...who enjoys making people's minds turn to mush.
In April 2007, Frankel posted on Amazon.com's message board for the page
selling her book. In her message there, she claimed to list "upcoming"
sequels in the Henry Potty series. Nobody knows if she was being serious or
not, but you can read her message, titles and plot synopses
here. Supposedly, some of the upcoming titles are "Henry Potty and the
Chamberpot of Secrets", "Henry Potty and the Man in the Iron Pants", and
(hold on to your sorting hats) "Henry Potty and the Cauldron of Hormones."
A Muggle Farewell
How did such a Muggle world as ours take so overwhelmingly to this magical
boy? Did Harry Potter and the attendant train of characters quench a thirst
in us for the kind of thrill we almost certainly will not experience? And
now that t he series of books about the teenage boy wizard’s life is coming
to an end, with the seventh and final novel to release on July 21, the air
of anticipation is suffused with various emotions depending on your
position/stake in the phenomenon created by J. K. Rowling and her
One would think a swan song of this stature would sell itself, given the
unparalleled success its predecessors have had in earlier years. But no, all
those concerned are leaving no stone unturned, also perhaps to make sure
they leave their mark on what is one of the most extraordinary sagas in
world publishing history.
As in previous years, bookstores and online sellers are offering discounts
and incentives on the purchase of the book, more so on pre-booking; planning
big events to kick off a week before launch day – the stakes are higher
because the world is preparing to bid goodbye.
Thomas Abraham, CEO and President, Penguin India, which is distributing the
Harry Potter series in the country, says, “We’d be very surprised if we
didn’t top 230,000 in sales for the first week.” The first three books were
successful but in a routine sort of way, he says, adding that it’s from
Goblet of Fire that the series really took off. That book did about 30,000
copies in 2000. Book 5 did about 60,000, and the last one did about 160,000
“True, the book should be able to sell itself, on one level. But remember
the old adage, however successful a brand, one has to keep promoting it.
Having said that, Potter is again a fairly unique phenomenon. Most of the
hype is self-generating,” Abraham says. And “the quantity is doubling with
the hype,” says M. Raju, Store Manager at Chennai’s Oxford Book Store.
A pricey affair at Rs 975, the sweeteners are the discounts some booksellers
are offering. If some aren’t, well, they’ve got something else in store for
you. Oxford Book Store is offering 17.5 per cent off on the book if you
pre-order and pay Rs 300 in advance. Landmark is not offering a discount but
has some exclusive gifts up its sleeve. Crossword is giving out a gift
voucher of Rs 200 and membership of its store loyalty programme on
Pre-bookings aren’t really necessary, copies will continue to be available,
but for a book of this magnitude, it’s always better to be certain – that’s
the sentiment ruling readers’ hearts as they rush to book their copies.
“This time, pre-booking is much higher. It’s not all marketing; you can’t
have this kind of response if the quality wasn’t good,” says Aniyan Nair,
Head (Operations & Marketing) of Crossword.
These stores are not stopping with discounts/freebies. Apart from special
offers on the entire Harry Potter series, they have in-store excitement
planned as well. Oxford’s ’Pottermania’ will kick off a week before the
launch and will offer incentives on the set of Harry Potter books.
Landmark is planning a surprise but what it will reveal is that it’s doing
up its stores with witches, broomsticks, owls and other Harry Potter
paraphernalia to set the mood. All of them, of course, plan to build castles
in their stores a la Hogwarts and will open at the crack of dawn to service
the long queues outside.
“The Harry Potter books gave a fillip to the reading habit among children,
and people discovered fantasy old and new,” says Hemu Ramaiah, CEO,
Landmark. They revived interest in several authors such as C. S. Lewis (The
Chroni cles of Narnia), J. R. R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings) and Eva
Ibbotson (The Secret of Platform 13 and others), and made the genre popular.
Since Potter, there have been several fantasy and teen heroes and heroines:
Artemis Fowl, Eragon, Alfred Kropp, Young Bond, Percy Jackson, Lemony
Snicket and Lyra of Dark Materials (the first novel in the series was
actually published in 1995, before Harry Potter) – they may not have the
same readership as Potter, but have a dedicated following.
The book’s arrival also coincided with a period in time when people were
able to afford them and when parents were getting keener on their children
developing the reading habit, she says.
Just why is Potter so popular? Says brand expert Harish Bijoor, “Harry
allows us to escape where we want to be. This is a brand that seeps into our
psyche and helps bridge the explored with the unexplored. We as human beings
want this. The brand formula is, therefore, perfect.
“Added to this, the brand’s marketing is seamless and transitions media to
great advantage. The editorial dissemination of the brand is big as well.
All this helps build the cult of Harry Potter and the brand becomes one that
Penguin’s Abraham does not see a formula in Potter’s success. “There would
have been a lot more similar successes otherwise. But yes, the storytelling,
the characters, the emotional connect it builds up, the effortless writing,
the universe it creates and exists in all go a long way,” says Abraham.
“Worldwide, Harry Potter has an amazing impact. In India too, this can be
seen, albeit on a lesser scale. There’s huge excitement, a sluggish summer
market seems rejuvenated and most importantly it’s good for everybody’s
turnover. On the flip side there’s the absolutely unnecessary discounting
(again a worldwide phenomenon) that eats into margins,” he adds.
However, the discounting spree this time across stores real and virtual has
turned this into a volumes game. “It’s the best-selling consumer product and
it’s being discounted,” says Landmark’s Ramaiah with a laugh.
For Penguin, the children’s segment brings in 15 per cent of its turnover.
Piracy is a big concern, most so when a new Harry Potter is releasing.
There will be some strong anti-piracy initiatives on, says Abraham. “A lot
of Potter readers don’t buy them,” says Ramaiah, explaining that the story
may not be correct or printed right. The books have also come to be regarded
The series has thrown up several parodies, such as the Barry Trotter series,
Harry Putter, Henry Potty and Parry Hotter, but these come up and evoke
interest soon after a Potter book is released and lie low till the next one.
They don’t really have a lasting impact, says Ramaiah.
The movies, of course, rendered Harry and his world of wizardry much closer
and clearer to the Muggles and have topped $3 billion in revenue as
box-office block busters.
As with the books, each movie has generated more interest than the previous
one and more and more pockets in India have come to be aware of Potter, says
Sanjay Narayanan, Marketing Manager, Warner Bros India. This year, the
release of Ha rry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is just 10 days ahead
of the release of the final book, and that is seen as complimenting the book
release, though Narayanan says he cannot comment on whether the timing was
deliberate. Harry Potter is among the top three movie franchises in terms of
revenue and each sequel has been one of the biggest movies in the year that
it was released, he adds. Warner Bros is also releasing a set of the movies
on DVD and games for PC and PlayStation II, he informs.
Will Harry live? Who will die? Rowling has set off a frenzy of guessing by
revealing that at least two characters will die in this final book but for
those in publishing and book selling, where budgets are made based on Harry
Potter, the big question is What Next?
“Publishing is an inexact science in terms of predicting bestsellers. But
everybody hopes that they’ll have the next Rowling or Dan Brown. And it’s
hoped that the Potter effect will have left its mark in at least widening
the readership base and in rekindling the reading habit. But if not, life
will go on as before,” says Abraham. But one thing is for sure – achieving a
similar level of success will be a hard act to follow.
Frankel, Valerie Estelle :
Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage
(WingSpan Press 978-1-59594-241-8,
$12.95, 169pp, trade paperback, July 2008, cover art Anica
"Unauthorized" parody of J.K. Rowling's
Harry Potter young adult fantasy series. It follows the
earlier Frankel title Henry Potty and the Pet Rock.
website describes this as "Book 7 in the Henry Potty
Series" with a
link to explain
why there were no books 2 through 6; there's also a
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