Page 26. " the car shot suddenly towards the moon "

Witches and wizards traditionally fly on broomsticks or magic carpets, but J.K. Rowling took this concept a step further when she created Mr. Weasley’s flying car, an enchanted Ford Anglia.

She is not the first to devise a flying car: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in the novel by Ian Fleming, can fly, and so can Scaramanga's car in the film version of another Fleming creation, The Man with the Golden Gun.



Page 27. " Draco Malfoy made Dudley Dursey look like a kind, thoughtful and sensitive boy "

The word Draco in Latin means dragon, whilst in Greek it means serpent, so Draco Malfoy certainly belongs in Slytherin, whose symbol is the serpent.

Like most of his mother's family members, Draco's name represents a star constellation. Found in the northern hemisphere, Draco is one of the oldest constellations ever recorded. Since it never set, the Egyptians believed that it was a goddess situated in the sky to protect them at any time of the day and night. On the other hand in Greek and Roman mythology it was said that this constellation was actually a dragon, thrown in the sky by the goddess Hera/Minerva as a sign of its defeat. Early Christians thought Draco represented the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Draco's surname, Malfoy, derives from the Latin word maleficus, someone who does evil. In ancient times this word was used for witches and their evil deeds. Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch's Hammer) was one of the first books on witchcraft. Published in 1487, it was written by two Inquisitors of the Church on the orders of Pope Innocent VIII to show people that witches really exist and help capture them.

Page 30. " with a wand sticking out of the pocket "

Wizards have long been associated with wands. As far back as the Stone Age we find paintings of men carrying sticks, who some historians think were the heads of clans, their ‘wand’ symbolising their power.

Druid priests carried different wands to show the different levels of their priesthood. In ancient Egypt, priests were always drawn with rods in their hands, marking them out from the rest.

During important ceremonies we still use some of these symbols of power, for example sceptres, pastoral staffs and other such objects. The caduceus was a wand carried by Hermes in Greek mythology to symbolise healing powers and wisdom. This symbol (a rod with two entwined serpents and a pair of wings) is still used by doctors today.

Often in children’s stories, witches and fairies are depicted with a wand in their hand that has a star on top. In The Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch’s wand is feared because it is capable of turning any creature into stone. In other stories, like The Lord of the Rings, The Sword in the Stone and the Harry Potter series – wizards (Gandalf, Merlin and others) use their wands to duel with their enemies. 

J.K. Rowling has introduced an interesting twist: in Harry Potter's world, wands match the personality and destiny of the wizard, and it is the wand that chooses the person who should own it. These wands are made from a combination of parts of magical creatures (e.g. phoenix’s feathers or unicorn hairs) with pieces of yew, willow, oak, maple, ebony, beech and mahogany trees.

Traditionally, wizards’ wands were often made from the elder tree, since it has always been associated with magic. Other stories tell of dark wizards carrying a wand made of cypress wood, because this tree is connected with death. Voldemort carries a wand made of yew, which is not only a tree with immense supernatural powers but also a symbol of death and rebirth, thus representing something the dark wizard really wants – immortality.     

Page 32. " woe betide you if there’s a single gnome in that garden "

Creative Commons AttributionGnome - Credit: Philippe Semeria
Gnomes were mostly found in medieval mythology. These small creatures normally live beneath the ground, and are often depicted guarding treasures or mines.

In 19th century Germany, gnome statues were created and used as an ornament in gardens. They became so popular that in just a few months their production spread around Europe. These small ornamental statues are normally male, have a large white beard and a pointed hat. They are still found in many gardens throughout the world today.