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Potter magic comes to life

Ailsa Floyd, a third-year pupil at Lochgilphead High, has claimed The TES Scotland seat at JK Rowling's press conference in July to launch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Her application to be our correspondent at the event was supported strongly and convincingly by Steven Findlay, librarian at the school, and endorsed by Ailsa's teachers.

Describing her as an avid reader, Mr Findlay said: "Ailsa has read all the Harry Potter novels several times and reports that she read the fifth book in 11 hours. At that rate of reading, she would easily be able to finish Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in time to make a useful contribution to the press conference."

Mr Findlay said her teachers rated the 14-year-old as "a serious student who is likely to do well academically". Catriona Hood, principal teacher of English at Lochgilphead High, believes she is an excellent choice.

We asked schools to submit one question that their nominated pupil would like to ask JK Rowling, and Ailsa wants to know if Fluffy is based on Cerberus from Greek mythology, as well as how the author thought up the Hogwarts motto.

Mr Findlay says he has little doubt that, by the time Ailsa finishes the latest Rowling offering, she will have a slew of other questions she will be dying to find the answers to. "While she enjoys her reading and can lose herself in a story to the extent that the outside world doesn't register on her, she is also able to read critically and to think beyond the actual text," he says.

We hope to publish more Potter fans' questions and a report on the judging on July 15.

Ailsa will join 69 other young reporters at Edinburgh Castle, including The TES correspondent, Bethan Roberts, a final-year pupil at St Joseph's primary in Barnoldswick, near Colne in Lancashire, to hear JK Rowling read from her sixth Harry Potter novel on the stroke of midnight at Edinburgh Castle. Each youngster will receive a signed copy of the book.

The children will get the chance to read the book the following day before a banquet in the evening. On the Sunday, the eight to 16-year-olds will turn their hand to reporting at a press conference with JK Rowling, when they will get the chance to put their own questions. Afterwards, they will file their reports to their respective newspapers (Ailsa's copy will appear in The TES Scotland on July 22).

Questions from Potter fans who entered the competition showed an encyclopaedic knowledge, such as one from Anita Le Tissier, a pupil at St Augustine's High in Edinburgh: "If you were part of the gang that hang out with Malfoy, say for instance Pansy Parkinson, how would you feel after mocking Harry?"

Jaerin Hamilton, a primary 6 pupil at St Ronan's primary in Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, is keen to ask JK Rowling whether any of the Hogwarts professors resemble any teacher she had when she was at school.

And Christopher West, a P7 pupil at Stenhousemuir primary, seemed particularly anxious about the future. He wants an assurance that nobody else will die in the next Harry Potter adventure.

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