Thursday, June 23, 2011

Follow the Owl

"The experience of reading requires that the imaginations of the author & reader work together to create the story."  --  JK Rowling

If you're a Harry Potter fan like I am, then you're probably feeling a bit drained right now.  The last few days have brought waves of mounting excitement coupled with the fear of possible disappointment as if the Chudley Cannons had made it to the World Quidditch Cup.  But not only were we anticipating, we were participating.  It was as if Jo had twirled her time-turner and returned many of us to the last days before July 21, 2007 when we feverishly scoured her work for clues as to what was forthcoming, sharing possible finds with each other, building our own theories.

That's always been the beauty of Jo's work -- reader involvement.  Like no other author I know of, she understands how to fully engage her reader, from picking out which house they would be sorted into, to scouring old myths in the hunt for possible clues to the Potter plots.  We engage because she weaves mystery into everything she does, and leaves a delightfully hidden trail of clues to follow.  She plays with her reader, and we join enthusiastically in with her game.

And so today's announcement arrived.  We waited online together with collective baited breath.  As one, we watched the video presentation with its fanciful animated words on a page coming to life.  And then we rushed in unison to click the link on the partially opened site to register our e-mail, hoping that come Harry and Jo's birthday, we could apply for the golden early entrance ticket.

Afterward, some were elated, even with the malfunctioning website.  Others disappointed that it was not what they'd hoped for.  Some gobbled up every news bit that was released like a hungry hippogriff gulping down tasty, dead ferrets.  Others meandered on to their regular lives, let down that there's still a long wait to know what Pottermore truly enter those Hogwarty gates.

The final tidbit Jo left with us was her direction to "follow the owl," with a lone owl shadow soaring over her printed page, across the scene in Philosopher's Stone of Harry entering the restricted section (as pointed out by sharp-eyed ShannonAshley).  And as Ron worried about Hagrid's direction to follow the butterflies, we now question how we are to follow the owls.

Are we on a new clue hunt for whatever will get us in to Pottermore early?  Or are we to await instruction from Jo when registration opens on July 31?  Have clues already been hidden, maybe even many of those we excavated while searching out what Pottermore would be?  Or are they yet to be revealed, perhaps hidden in the pages of her books, or among her fansites that hosted her owlery images?

I expect that more information will be forthcoming in the next few days to help clarify things a bit, but knowing Jo, who like the Pied Piper loves to lead us on a merry chase, the whole mystery will not be cleared up until the Pottermore doors are fully open.  Because as much as we like to grouse and complain, a little mystery goes a long way to fully engaging the reader and exciting the imagination...the source of true magic.

P.S. - As a community, we covered a lot of theories, but I believe we hit the heart of what Pottermore appears to be.  We said it did not seem like JKR's style to do some sort of massive MMORPG game, and it wasn't.  By following her clues, we believed that Pottermore would be a combination of encyclopedia, gaming, and social media -- and it is!  We guessed there would be backstory and fanfiction and reader involvement, and it seems to have that aplenty.

So hold onto those owl counts, number theories, and possible coordinates.  There's a quill missing from the Pottermore entry desk, some loose quills floating somewhere from the YouTube owl tree, and some shadowy owl gliding across the page into a darkened library of hidden knowledge.  I think the mystery has only just begun!


  1. I'm slow at picking up clues: what owl shadow over a printed page are you talking about? Is it on Pottermore itself, or on the YouTube page?


  2. Barbara, this was caught by (to sound like Dave Barry) alert visitor ShannonAshley. It's at the end of the YouTube video:

    "In her video, when she says "follow the owl" and the owl shadow flies across the page, it switches scenes at "He set off, drawing the invisibility cloak tight around him as he walked."

    From Harry Potter The Sorcerer's Stone, pg 164, about going to the restricted section in the library."

  3. To be honest, I think that the online thing she meant by following the owl was: go to the Pottermore website.
    The reason I believe that is because her video on the Youtubechannel says: 'just follow the owl'. However, if you look at the video on that sentence is gone. Instead she says: 'I hope to see you soon.'

  4. You're right, Jeremy; it does sound like she was probably just directing us to the website to register. But it also sounds like when July 31 rolls around there will be something we have to do, some challenge, to get in first. At that point, I wonder if any of these old clues will come to play, or if it will be a completely new game she's devised. The owl may have been an artistic showing of going deeper into the books, which is what the Pottermore site is supposed to be.

  5. Knowing Jo, I'm sure there will be some sort of challenge for us on July 31st. I'm sure I'd love that very much even if I don't make it into the 1 mil. number.

  6. You're right, Farida. I don't think she could do anything about Harry Potter without a bit of mystery about it.

    I wonder if she'll include that aspect in whatever she writers next?

  7. In her youtube page,right after the video gets done playing, a moment later an owl shadow goes across the page and if you click on it, it take you to

    I think that's what she meant by follow the owl.

  8. @SP Sipal
    "it switches scenes at "He set off, drawing the invisibility cloak tight around him as he walked."
    What do you mean by "it switches scenes"?

  9. I think you are right about the games just beginning. I think the Quill Quest is real, though maybe not the physical treasure hunt that people thought.

  10. Roxanne -- While I think you're right about what she meant for the immediate sense of follow the owl, I do think she's toying with the future quest as to who gets in early as well. And when I clicked on the video it didn't take me to Pottermore. Did anyone else have that trouble?

  11. It's not the video, as soon as it gets done playing, an owl shadow flies across the screen. And it does take you to Pottermore. But I still think we might be looking for either owls or quills.

  12. Anonymous -- You're referring to ShannonAshley's catch and comment from The Final Reveal post. While the page she's referring to in the book is not a true scene break, it is a scenery change as Harry leaves the dorm and goes through the castle to enter the library.

    Does that answer your question?

  13. Ahh, now I see it Roxanne and Niki! My eye was so focused on the shadow owl on the page in the video, I glossed over the one when it stops.

    And yes, I think the owls are directing us to both the website and the upcoming hunt. I'm guessing those missing quills are owl quills! :-)

    Eric -- Cool site and great title. You've put it all together well to start the hunt.

    One piece you might want to add. As caught by @HPSupports!/HPSupporters and mentioned on our Final Reveal post, in the Pottermore YouTube Flash, there were what appeared to be 3 leaves on the bottom branch. HPSupporters said they looked more like quills than leaves, (which they did), and that they floated away and we would have to find them. HPSupporters predicted all this before Pottermore opened! Couple those 3 "lost" quills with the empty inkpot on the desk, and I believe along with you that's exactly what we'll have to do.

    The question is, will we have clues before July 31 to go on, or do we have to wait until then?

  14. Chapter 12 - The Mirror of Erised is all over that YouTube video. I saw the owl make it's way to the reference of the Restricted Section and thought I'd found a clue. I got the same thrill I got from reading the books the first time! I've also noticed that the owl in the video is made from the two preceding pages, including a part of the note from Dumbledore that was with the invisibility cloak.
    I'm buzzing with possibilities... :¬)

  15. Guys, I now have a name to put with that brilliant theory from HPSupporters about the quills on the owl tree -- Tom at HPSupporters.

    Also DaithiDublin -- I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond. You got my curiosity and I was wanted to go back and read the Mirror of Erised chapter, but just haven't had a moment. Have you put any of your theories together where I can go read them? And it is wonderful to be back on the hunt again, isn't it. Leave it to JKR! :-)

  16. Hi everyone, so I zoomed in on the owl in the pottermore home page. And is it just me or does there appear to be a face on this owl?

  17. chicalee - Are you talking about other than the owl's own face? You might want to check Eric's site, Quill Quest, mentioned and linked above in the comment trail. He was taking about the image on the home page and analyzing some of the file names as well.

  18. No if you look at the Owl on the pottermore home page on the bottom right corner there appears to be a face in the feathers. zoom in a little.

  19. I zoomed in and saw something that looked like a chin and mouth. Maybe I'm not seeing it what you are?

  20. I see the face too. Interesting stuff