Just what is it that makes Harry Potter such a phenomenon with young and old alike? The fifth installment in the series - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - already has the entire world buzzing. Millions of books are in print and anticipation is building for its release Saturday, June 21st.

One University of Maryland expert is not as enamored as some are with this blockbuster. English Professor Verlyn Flieger says, "I don't consider the Harry Potter stories to be myth in any sense of the word." Adding "The books are essentially 'school' stories with an overlay of magic as window-dressing."

Use our experts to give your stories on the newest Harry Potter saga an extra dimension they might not otherwise have:


Verlyn Flieger, professor of English, University of MarylandExpertise - J.R.R. Tolkien, myth studies and comparative mythology.

Credentials - author or books and numerous articles about Tolkien and mythology. Flieger has written her own book based on mythology - "Pig Tales" - that received critical acclaim.

Sheri Parks, associate professor or american studies, University of MarylandExpertise - the effect of imagery upon children, including good and evil, female protagonists, and a constructed nostalgia. Credentials -- author of numerous articles looking at popular mythology, she teaches courses that include "Children and Television," as well as "Family and Popular Culture."

Peter Afflerbach, professor, College of Education and director of the University of Maryland Reading CenterExpertise - children and reading. The impact books in the Harry Potter series and similar fictional stories have on the desire of children to read.

Credentials - the author of a number of articles and papers on the importance of reading and not only how to get children to read more but help them do a better job of understanding what they are reading. Before moving to the university level, he taught reading at the elementary and middle school levels.

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