Johnstone, Anne. "Fun is brought to book." The Herald , July 4, 1998

Sequel. Somehow the sound of the word sets you up for a let-down. Maybe, it's too much like squeal. In truth, many sequels are painfully disappointing. The unremitting pressure of the marketing people too often transforms the rich promise of a first novel into something strained and lacklustre in the attempted follow-up. Maybe some writers have only one really good book in them. Heidi, Little Women, What Katy Did, Flambards ... my own childhood was peppered with anticipation never quite satisfied by the sequel.

When Joanne Rowling blythely told The Herald last year she had enough overmatter and unworked ideas from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for six sequels, I ordered us another coffee at Nicolsons Cafe and stayed silent. It seemed so unlikely that she could replicate the imaginative power, emotional intensity, and entrancing complexity of the prototype that I received the draft of volume two with trepidation.

It's good to be wrong sometimes. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, out last week (Bloomsbury £10.99), sees Harry setting off again for Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this time in a flying Ford Anglia. But he's hardly settled into his classes (potions, herbology, charms, defence against the dark arts etc) when he starts hearing disembodied voices and, as his mate Ron says: "Hearing voices no-one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world."

From this point, this book is as compulsive as the last and all the children in my household fought over it, including the 51-year old.

Opinions vary about the importance of summer reading. For new readers it's certainly helpful in preventing the slide-back effect. For their older siblings it's more a defence against boredom. Either way, the trick is to find a story so exciting the child can't help turning the pages. Here's some "SDAB" (strategic defence against boredom) for the 11-plus age group.

Bloomsbury Children's Books has come up with a wizard idea to capitalise on the success of its latest discovery, Edinburgh-based author, Joanne Rowling. Her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, walked off last year with a Smarties Award and the Children's Book Award. The first of six planned sequels, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published last week. Now a fan club is planned. Friends of Potter will become postal members of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and qualify for extras such as mindboggling quizes, Hogwarts pencils, and the secret password to the Harry Potter website. Annual membership will be one Galleon and two Sickles (£3.50 in Mugglespeak). If this is all incomprehensible, it just proves you haven't read Harry Potter, something you should remedy now.

For more information, contact Deputy Headmistress, Professor Minerva McGonagall, at Bloomsbury Publishing, 38 Soho Square, London W1V 5DF.