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Wizard's Hall

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,147 ratings  ·  98 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

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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
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
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
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
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
Maggie Stiefvater
Sep 14, 2008 Maggie Stiefvater rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
Doesn't feel fully realized--like it's still in draft form.
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
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
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
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.
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 3 of 5 stars
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
"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
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
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
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
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
Alex Murphy
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Memory Toast
"We must try." So runs the refrain of this amusing, eccentric, and delightfully simple tale.

Henry/Thormallow wanders into Wizard Hall at just the right moment to do...something. If only he knew what that something was. He figures it out eventually (towards the end of the book - surprise, surprise!), and when he does, he manages to do something truly heroic in scale, just by trying.

And that's probably what got me to like this story. It wasn't the setting (a bit narrow), the plot (a bit thin), o
This is a very quick, simple read that is more geared toward kids.

I agree that it's possible that Rowling took ideas from this story to create her Harry Potter series, but I don't think that that is a big deal because the similarities were slight.

However, if you want to read something that Rowling DEFINITELY stole from, read Groosham Grange by Anthony Horowitz. It was written back in the 80s, nine years before Harry Potter. There is absolutely no way that the similarities between Harry Potter an
I read this book about 22 years ago and never forgot about it at all. I loved this book as a child and am thinking of picking it up again. It is an easy read, easy to remember or forget--but that was the point. It was a children's book designed for...well kids. It has great moral lessons plan and simple that kids who don't have deep, critical reading skills can grasp.

Reading the comments about the similarities between this book and Harry Potter---yes, they are remarkably similar. My personal opi
Lovely quick read. Perfect bedtime story. I loved the phrase repeated throughout, "Yes, prickly, I'd say. I'll have to take the squishy part on faith." I appreciated the encouragement to "try". Good for younger readers.
Annette McIntyre
A good book that puts in place that even if you think you aren't good at something you should still try your hardest - you never know how things will turn out. A really good book for kids aged can't 8 +
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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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