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Reading can do with a little magic

You've got to take your hat off to them - witch's hat, that is. For all the hype and lawyers' letters that go to promoting and protecting the secret intrigues of the latest Harry Potter novel, J K Rowling and her publisher, Bloomsbury, know how to get children reading - and writing.

Last Friday at one minute after midnight, Rowling appeared in the dining hall at Hogwarts School (aka Edinburgh Castle) to reveal the next twist in the Potter tale to an eager pack of 70 cub reporters, our own correspondent among them (page five). They had 36 hours to digest the 600-page novel before putting their questions to her at an exclusive press conference (excluding all the middle-aged hacks) and going off to write their news stories and reviews for the world press.

Within 24 hours, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had sold more than 2 million copies in the UK; in the United States it had sold almost 7 million. By Monday, the children were starting to deliver their stories and reviews to newsdesks around the world.

Now if that isn't a magical feat, what is?

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