One of the nice things about living on this island is that there is no ageism (you have to be over a certain age, I think, to know how prevalent this is in America). When someone turned 18, I was one of the people she invited to the pub on the night of her birthday. Having your first drink there is a big deal, and I was honored to be included.
It was also a really fun night. Some of us were talking about the Lord of the Rings, and when the conversation turned to Harry Potter, I asked someone who had grown up with the books -- he is 19 -- why he thought they were so popular. I've asked lots of children why they loved them so much, but no one has ever articulated an answer.
He said he liked the mixture of the realistic writing and Hogwarts:
"Because when you turn eleven you think you might get the letter," he said, with a delighted, wondering smile (at the memory, I think, not the question.)
If that sounds unbelievable, or too fanciful, or not something American children would think, I remember once -- in the early days of the Internet -- getting an email from a child saying mine was the only author's email addresss she could find (it was at the back of BOTM) and did I know how she could write to Hogwarts?
"It is my hope that it exists," she wrote.
I think the line between what's possible and what isn't is blurrier when you're young; you can know something is not true and yet hope, almost believe, that it IS true.