A book to accompany JK Rowling's novels will extend readers' knowledge of a magical milieu. Philippa White reports
A new trivia book based on the Harry Potter stories will teach children about the Salem witch trials, fossils beneath London's Victoria underground station and how tawny owls communicate.
The book, The Potter Pensieve: Trivial Delights from the World of Harry Potter, dissects the Potter novels and films and explains the general knowledge references mentioned in them.
The book is not approved or endorsed by Potter author JK Rowling, publisher Bloomsbury or film producers Warner Brothers, but is due to be published in September following the July publication of the sixth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Karen Farrington, who lives in Devon, co-wrote the book of trivia with her 15-year-old Potter-addict son, Lewis Constable.
She said: "When reading children's books I often think they mention people and things that children do not know much about.
"I wanted to take children outside the world of Harry Potter and extend their knowledge of the real world."
The Potter Pensieve takes its title from the name of a bowl mentioned in the books in which thoughts and ideas are put.
Its 200 pages list information in short, easy-to-read sections. They include a run-down of the world's most haunted houses, the history of tea-leaf reading, and an explanation of the difference between a ghost and a poltergeist.
The book also includes a tried and tested recipe for strawberry and peanut butter ice cream, a flavour eaten by Harry in one of the novels but not found in regular cookery books.
Lewis, a Year 10 pupil at Ilfracombe college, helped by compiling a guide to the novels' characters and explaining magical creatures to his mother.
He also provided the line-up for a Quidditch "dream team".
He says the book will satisfy fans hungry for more Potter-related information. "Sometimes the books alone are not enough - you need more information," he said.
Ms Farrington, who had not read any of the Harry Potter books before she began the project, has been careful not to give away any of the plots.
"I did not want to deconstruct Hogwarts," she said. "The benefit of the magic of the books has been so apparent in my own children that I had no desire to spoil that for anyone else."
The Potter Pensieve will be published by Arcane in September, price Pounds 9.99