FARMINGTON – Kenny Brechner is ready for the posse of Potter aficionados that will plow into his book store Friday night faster than the Hogwart’s Express.

Already he has his wizard cape, the ingredients to make fresh butterbeer, extra staff on the schedule and an order into Scholastic – which he nervously goes online and checks the progress of every few minutes – for 200 copies of the most-hyped book in the history of the printed page, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

Brechner, of Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers, says he is planning two publication parties at the downtown Farmington store, and that that is the least he can do for his customers, 90 of whom have pre-ordered copies.

Across town, at Mr. Paperback, manager Louise Mitchell has 208 books on reserve and 350 on order.

Both stores will offer discounts usually reserved for New York Times Bestseller list-makers, 20 percent at DD & G and 25 percent at Mr. Paperback, knowing full well the book will be there soon.

“The book will make that list within seconds,” Mitchell said. “That’s a no-brainer.”

It appears that Farmington muggles (non-magic folk) are entranced under the spell of Potter and aren’t afraid to fork over the bucks or forgo a few hours of sleep to be the first to feast their wide eyes on the 255,000 words of the fifth book, which begins with the sentence, “The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive…”

At Devaney, Doak & Garrett the fun starts Friday at 11 p.m. with refreshments like those mentioned in the book, games, a sorting ceremony and a Triwizard Trivia Tourney before the cases of books are cracked open at 12:01 a.m.

After the crowd heads home to read, the store will be cleaned up in preparation for the next party, which starts Saturday at 7 a.m.

“It’s fun to celebrate the magic and the fun without commercialism,” said Brechner as flames from the store’s goblet of fire dance behind him. “It’s going to be a mob scene.”

The brouhaha is justified, he said. “It’s important to us as readers, and it’s important to our customers. They have a right to expect a celebration that’s attune to the excitement this book has generated. The book has earned the hype. It’s been worthy up to this point.”

Meanwhile, the fun at Mr. Paperback began with a Harry Potter theme window painting contest last week.

On Friday night, those anticipating the book can begin getting in the mood by creating their own wands and wizard hats at 7 p.m., followed by the reading of selected scenes from the previous four books. At 9 p.m. the store will have refreshments and at 10 p.m. a magic show by Charlie Who. 12:01, Mitchell says, is the big moment.

“In my 26 years managing this store, I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said of the buzz in the air. “Children who are reluctant to read anything will read this. What a tremendous accomplishment for a book. She’s (J.K. Rowling) just written a very imaginative story. Good for her, and lucky for us.”

In Oxford County, the place to be Saturday, June 21, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, is Norway Memorial Library at 258 Main St.

From 10:30 a.m. to noon, the library will hold a Harry Potter Party for children in conjunction with Saturday’s release. Children, who are encouraged to dress in costume to fit in with the library’s Potter decor, can listen to readings from Rowling’s earlier books and make their own potions and magical wands.

The library has also ordered four copies of the “Order of the Phoenix,” which are slated to arrive sometime this week. For more information, phone 743-5309.


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