April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Let the Debate Begin: A Side-by-Side Look at “Sorcerer’s Stone” Covers

It’s the 20th anniversary year for the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Scholastic had Caldecott-winning illustrator Brian Selznick create new covers for each of the seven books in the series.

Amid the many elements in the new black-and-white illustration, the scar seems to jump off the page. While the books’ text never place the lightning bolt anywhere more specific than Harry’s forehead, cover illustrations of the original editions placed it squarely in the center. The movies, per J.K. Rowling herself (at least according to articles written at the time), put it slightly off-center. In both illustrations and film portrayals, though, it was straight up and down, a clear vertical mark from Voldemort’s wand.

Adding more to the scar history and mystery, Rowling herself did some sketches before the books were published and has featured some on Pottermore.com. (Yes, she can draw very well, too.) In the drawings that include Harry, his scar seems to be obscured by his hair—falling right in the middle of his forehead.

So, here they are, side-by-side: the original cover art by Mary GrandPré and Selznick’s anniversary version. Harry Potter fans have never been shy about their opinions on the beloved series (of books and movies). Let us know what you think.

There have been two other Sorcerer’s Stone covers as well. Neither shed any light on the scar issue.

The 15th anniversary edition with illustration by Kazu Kibuishi:

And the more recent illustrated edition with artwork by Jim Kay:


Of course, there’s the true original—Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with only 500 copies in the initial print run (300 of those went to libraries) in the U.K.

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  1. Laura Rochte says:

    All I know is if the Queen of the Potterverse, J.K. Rowling, is good with it then it doesn’t really bother me at all.

  2. Elizabeth vonTauffkirchen says:

    I agree with Laura, if Jo Rowling is cool with it, so am I.

    Frankly, I love them all! Brian Selznick’s illustrations are really amazing! This is the first I’m seeing his cover and I think it’s spectacular!

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