Everyone at Whale of a Tale Children's Bookshoppe in Irvine on Monday was wild about Harry. Harry Potter, that is.
He's the sorcerer's apprentice who stars in the wildly popular series of children's books that are Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on the New York Times best-sellers list. And an appearance by Harry's creator, J.K. Rowling, drew hundreds and hundreds of Potter fans to the University Center store.
The Pottermaniacs - and their parents and grandparents - began arriving before dawn for the evening signing.
"I read all three (books) in 12 days. That's 1,086 pages," said Jaci Cheskes-Harris, 9, whose father got to the store at 5 a.m. and was second in line.
Sales were limited to 800 books - a drop in the bucket compared to the 8.2 million copies of the three books in print, but not enough to satisfy everyone who showed up.
The Pottermaniacs came in all sizes and ages.
"I always say we're tall children," said Suzanne Schaefer, 50, who arrived at 7:30 a.m. to secure spots in line for herself and her husband.
Once inside the store, fans filed quickly past a tired-looking Rowling, who wore jeans, a simple shirt and a wrist brace on her right arm. Despite the rigors of a whirlwind national tour that began Oct. 11 and had taken her to Ventura in the morning, the author seemed genuinely pleased to meet her fans and answer their questions.
"Is it Voldemort?" "Or Voldemor?" someone asked about Harry's evil nemesis.
"I say 'Voldemor' but I'm the only one," Rowling, who's from Edinburgh, said with a slight Scottish burr.
"Yes, Harry. You came!" she said to Charles Pollock, 9, who wore a cape with an owl on his shoulder, a pair of taped horn-rimmed spectacles and a lightning bolt drawn on his forehead.