Saturday, July 16, 2005

A report from one of the 'Cub Reporters'
To say that 10-year-old Rosie Jenkins is excited would be an understatement. The winner of The Observer 's Harry Potter competition dragged her reluctant father from a beach in Italy on Friday morning to say farewell to the rest of their family and board a flight home with her.
This morning the cub reporter will be one of 70 children picked from thousands of hopefuls to attend a press conference with JK Rowling. Adult reporters are excluded.
'It was the most exciting experience of my life,' said Rosie. 'The bit when we walked into the castle was amazing. There were people dressed as gargoyles, as the wind, as fire-jugglers and as dragons. We were given butter beer and sorted into houses with the sorting hat; I was in Gryffindor. We were then given seats by picking silver or gold stones out of a bag. I got a silver stone so I was sitting on a cushion near JK Rowling.'
Earlier, jugglers, fire-eaters, torch-throwers and ghouls lined the ancient cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile as black and white horse-drawn carriages took the children to the castle, which was illuminated with images of Harry and his friends.
The 70 children were led up a red carpet by lantern-carrying prefects to the shrieks of envious fans who had gathered on the esplanade in the hope of catching a glimpse of the author. At 11pm she obliged, emerging from a black limousine to sign autographs and talk to the press.
She then disappeared into the castle's Queen Anne Building, which had been transformed for the evening into the entrance hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
For the cub reporters, however, midnight on Saturday signalled just the beginning of their Harry Potter weekend. Last night they were due to attend a banquet in Edinburgh Castle's Jacobite Room ahead of this morning's press conference.
Rosie, who will be rejoining her family on holiday in Lake Garda tomorrow, intended to ask whether Rowling had plans to write more books, in a different genre, after the final installment of Harry Potter.
'I'm hoping she's going to move into comedy, because she's very witty,' she said.

Another cub reporter among who attended was Scotland On Sunday's winner, 11-year-old Declan Paton. "It was brilliant," he said. "I felt like royalty. As we went up the Royal Mile in horse drawn carriages there were loads of photographers trying to take our picture. When we arrived at the castle there was a big red carpet laid out for us and as we walked up there was lots of red smoke and fireworks going off. "Inside there were people juggling with fire and asking us questions from the Harry Potter quiz book and if we got the answer right we received a piece of chocolate."

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