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Wizard's Hall

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,248 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Poor Henry. It’s not enough that his mother has sent him away from home to learn magic. It’s not enough that everyone at his new school calls him Thornmallow because he’s “prickly on the outside, squishy within.” It’s not enough that the only talent he shows at Wizard’s Hall is an ability to make messes of even the simplest spells. Now, when Wizard’s Hall is threatened by ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 12th 1999 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published May 1st 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,381)
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Jun 17, 2010 Krista rated it liked it
Shelves: to-read-cdb
After learning that this book preceded Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and that its author, Jane Yolen, feels that Rowling stole all of her ideas from Wizard's Hall and is remarkably grumpy about the Harry Potter series; "... even though the story moves along, I just don't feel like they're well written" and "I always tell people that if Ms. Rowling would like to cut me a very large cheque, I would cash it" and "Rowling's prose is terrible"), I just had to read this book.

Sure, Wizard's
Maggie Stiefvater
Sep 14, 2008 Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans, Diana Wynne Jones fans, 8-12 year olds
I just picked this one up at the library to reread as I remembered loving it as a kid. It was, in fact, the first novel I ever got a library fine on, as I lost it under my bed for several months.

A book that tells the story of a boy wizard succeeding against all odds might sound a bit familiar to you, but Wizard's Hall came long before Harry Potter was ever a twinkle in Voldemort's eye. Told in charming voice reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones, this quick read is full of dry humor and is a must for
Mar 02, 2011 Megan rated it did not like it
I picked up this book after reading an article about books from which J.K. Rowling had stolen Harry Potter. Jane Yolen was the one author who didn't seem so overtly angry but had simply said "If Rowling wants to give me part of her profits, I won't say 'no.'" I thought this was kind of funny and assumed her book would be too.

It was not. It was also not good. Yes, I know that it's a kids' book, and I'm in no way claiming that kids couldn't possibly enjoy it. But that's not what makes Harry Potte
Jubilation Lee
Apparently there was quite a bit of drama about this several years ago that went completely over my head—as a result, for poor ignorant me, my reading of Wizard’s Hall went something like this:

Harry Potter: Hello! My name is Harry Potter!
Thornmallow: Hello! My name is Thornmallow!
Both: I’m an eleven-year-old boy who journeys to a magical school for witches and wizards, filled with moving portraits and curses and teenagers in long black robes and wise old men! I have to defend my classmates
For category: a book with magic

I found "Wizard's Hall" for fifty cents at a book sale and picked it up simply because I was intrigued by the cover. I had absolutely no idea what it was about (since the back flap came all stickered and unreadable) and no expectations for it, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened it up and began reading. I fell in love with this little book! It's a lovely story of a charming, reluctant hero whose simple courage and determination win out in the face of powerf
Jul 17, 2011 Maddie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First of all I'd like to say that this not like Harry Potter. The only thing that's the same is that he goes to a wizard school and has to fight an evil wizard, oh, and he has two best friends, but never once during the book did I think, oh, this is kind of like Harry Potter. The writing was good, but everything happened really fast, I felt like I was walking through a whirlwind of information while reading this. Before I continue, I should probably mention that I am prejudiced, I am a huge fan ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Dec 27, 2011 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it really liked it
Written in a style that reminded me of two of Tolkien's shorter pieces, Farmer Giles Of Ham and Smith Of Wootton Major (stories that I treasure as much as his major epic), Wizard's Hall is a folksy, magical tale of a young boy who arrives, marked by destiny, at a school for wizards. Similarities to Those Books can be found and have been remarked on by Yolen herself. To accuse of her of stretching a point or being filled with bile on this account is itself a case of stretching a point. This littl ...more
Mar 23, 2009 Judi rated it really liked it
I read this book after seeing a comment that it preceded Harry Potter, with suspicions that maybe JKR had stolen the idea. Wizard's Hall does have similarities, but it's a nice quick read, not an epic. And nobody could ever mistake the one for the other. Ideas are like flowers -- just because one rose resembles another doesn't mean either is a clone. The HP series is excellent. But Jane Yolen is also a prolific and talented children's book author. I recommend checking out her work.
Hannah Bradley
Mar 02, 2016 Hannah Bradley rated it really liked it
This was a really fun and cute book for kids. I enjoy it a lot and know I would have loved it as a kid. I do wish that the book was longer and more developed. I felt like it was just very basic with what was happening and I would've liked more details. It's always funny to read books like this and see how similar they are to the premise of Harry Potter. I'm sure jk got some inspiration from this one.
Jan 20, 2016 Becky rated it really liked it
4.5/5. Always really liked this book. Certainly children's fiction but the writing is good. I only wish it were longer or that there were more in this series. I hope my friends enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Dec 01, 2008 Carmen rated it really liked it
Ok this is a children's book but it was my fave book as a little kid. Also the first Harry Potter book is a total rip-off of this story, so I felt the need to add it.
Oct 27, 2007 Ginger rated it liked it
Doesn't feel fully realized--like it's still in draft form.
Jun 15, 2016 Whitney rated it really liked it
Just a few days ago, Thornmallow was a simple boy named Henry who lived on a farm. Now he's a wizard who's just discovered that there's an evil heading right for his new school. With this threat to the school, also comes the threat to his new friends. And it's up to Thornmallow to help save the day. But how can he when the most he can seem to do is make messes with his magic?


The plot is very simple: a boy goes to a school to learn magic and he and the school have to deal with an evil wizard.
Oct 08, 2010 Ryn rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn Knight Harper
While I have great memories of this book from my childhood, it really is a children's book. It doesn't have extra layers or deep meanings... everything can be found on the surface of the book. It's an easy, fun read, with a clever plot line, but it isn't challenging or particularly stimulating.

It follows a little boy named Henry whose mother abruptly sends him away to a wizard's school without any warning or preparation. When Henry arrives, he is promptly given a new name and it sent off to his
Anoush Emrazian
I listened to this on audio cassette, which I didn't really know you could still check out from the library . . . :-)

It was simple and fun and quick. It's said that Harry Potter is similar to this book (which came first), but I only see it in a very superficial way.

This is a great book about being ordinary and why that's okay. Everyone has their own special skills and all we can do is just try and not give up. Try your best and that's all that can be asked and really that's all anyone needs. Hen
Christopher Baldwin
Aug 16, 2011 Christopher Baldwin rated it liked it
A fun very sweet little read.

Yes, the Harry Potter thing. So, I think Yolen is an excellent writer, and I agree that J.K. Rowling was influenced a LOT (too much?) by this book. But I feel they are practically different genres -- this one reads more like a fable, and delightfully so. The HP books are more character dramas, with the magic stuff as a fun almost unimportant background.
May 03, 2015 Phoebe rated it liked it
Henry's mother practically pushes him out of the door on the day he mentions he might like to be a wizard. Though terrified and missing his "dear ma" he walks to Wizard's Hall, the local school for wizards. Almost immediately confused by the blind old wizard who greets him, Henry is given the new name of Thornmallow, (which is amusingly twisted and mangled by nearly every teacher at the school) and begins his new life. Also almost immediately, it is evident that the school and its inhabitants ar ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Lorddust rated it liked it
Recommends it for: children, parents who read novels to kids.
This book is good, but it lacks the epic feeling I expect from books about magic. It was a short easy read. I would suggest giving this to a young reader. Also a perfect read-to-me novel as it has short and concise chapters. Its ending is a littte quick, but so is the beginning. All in all a solid but not amazing book.
Andrew D
Jan 15, 2014 Andrew D rated it really liked it
"Wizard's Hall", a novel by Jane Yolen, highlights the interesting journey of "student number one-thirteen." Henry, a small, thin, boy with untidy hair and brilliant green eyes, is going off to magic school. To any Harry Potter fan, this all sounds oddly familiar, and yet this book was published 6 years before the first book of Harry Potter. Regardless, Henry is out of place at his school. He is tone-deaf and non-magical, but his remarkable persistence makes him worthy to potentially defeat the ...more
Feb 01, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Book Title: Wizard's Hall
Author: Jane Yolen
Lexile: N/A
Star Rating:

I thought the book was OK.
It was kinda confusing, too many Magisters with complicated names and too many characters.
There was a confusing storyline and I got confused a lot in certain parts of the story.

My favorite part was when he first went to Wizards Hall and he got a new name. He was like "My name is Henry, my ma gave it to me". And the people there were like "NOPE. Your new name is Thornmallow". That was kinda funny. There
Apr 01, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Deceptively, elegantly simple. I think JY writes as if she is making myths -- her writing is stripped down poetry, just what is necessary, no filler, nothing that isn't true. Because the language is so simple, Wizard's Hall can feel childish. But I think it's less childish and more elemental.

As much as I love a certain series about another boy who turns out to be a wizard, I'm absolutely convinced JY got robbed. I admire her tremendously. She's the only person to whom I've ever written a fan le
Eric Summers
Written several years before Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, this book nonetheless will sound very familiar to fans of the mega-series.
Henry is a boy with a mother who wants him to be a wizard. Harry goes to a hidden wizard's school that is under attack by dark forces. Sound familiar? While the two books are very similar in some ways, the writing styles of the two authors is evident. Also, this book was written as a one one-shot deal, not the beginning of a series.

For kids who struggle wi
Dec 14, 2014 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, magic
Quick read. Really little kids might get a kick out of it the most. It's a simple story that you don't have to think much about, a story where you can just hop on the smooth ride and enjoy the happy tour it gives ya! It was fun. I don't have any favorite characters, but Thornmallow was cool because he was special... I loved the scene where he brought an avalanche into the building by accident...! Did I laugh out loud? Oh yeah! What a genius kid.

I really hate comparing similar books to other simi
Books Kids Like
Oct 09, 2013 Books Kids Like rated it really liked it
Shelves: yolen-jane
One day, Henry mentions to his mother in passing that he’d like to become a wizard. The casual words are barely out of his mouth before he’s packed off to Wizard’s Hall. At the hall, Henry is given the name Thornmallow- prickly outside, squishy within. Henry quickly finds that there’s nothing magical about him. His tone deafness keeps him from singing the chants and spells on the dominant thus rendering his efforts ineffectual. Despite this, Thornmallow keeps trying. In fact, his persistence in ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Ariel rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, mg
I enjoyed this sweet book about magical apprenticeship which of course is very well written because it's written by Jane Yolen. I enjoyed the physical book, for example the drop-cap initials that look like gnarled magical thorn-trees at the beginning of each chapter. Plant magic is big in this book: the new wizards all get plant names and the villain is named Nettle. Our hero is a bit of a conundrum; he can and can't do magic but seems to be a "chosen one" because he is the 113th student to arri ...more
Alex Murphy
Jun 25, 2014 Alex Murphy rated it it was amazing
This is a book that makes me so exceptionally happy.

A young boy decides he wants to be a wizard and his mother pushes him to go that day and so he does. He gets to the school and is re-named Thornmallow for being prickly on the outside and squishy within. He discovers he is not that great at magic but he is needed because there is an evil that is attacking the school. Can he and his friends discover the right spell to save the school?

Fast, wonderful, and teaches you about the important things i
Angela Tuson
May 17, 2016 Angela Tuson rated it liked it
I can see why there were grumblings about J K Rowling pinching ideas from this book. However, they're entirely differently written. Henry is not on Harry's trajectory, nor does he live in our world. This is more for the Worst Witch readers than for those looking for another Hogwarts. I found Wizards Hall dryly amusing, and sweet. Glad I read it.
Thornmallow (Henry) was sent to Wizard's Hall by his mother to become a wizard. He really didn't want to go, he'd rather stay at home. But he did as his mother had wanted.
And he tries to learn magic. He tries his best at everything. But he doesn't think he can be a wizard. And when Thornmallow finds out that Wizard's Hall needs him, he decides to try his best.

Thornmallow was a fairly likable character. He doubted himself quite a bit and pretty much always did what he was told. His friends were a
Nov 10, 2012 Jaimie rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
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