Corrected Version: The first draft of this story contained incorrect information in the first bulleted item (about Hedwig).
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
• Harry is given a snowy owl and names her Hedwig. The most well-known Hedwig in history is St. Hedwig, beatified in the 13th century and recognized by Catholics as the patron saint of Silesia, most of which is located within Poland today.
• The best wands are made by Mr. Ollivander, who uses unicorn hair, phoenix tailfeathers and dragon heartstrings to make the powerful core of a wand. Harry tried out dozens of wands before he was "chosen" by his wand: made of holly with a phoenix-feather core. As it turns out, the phoenix that gave the feather gave only one other -- which found its way into the perfect wand for the evil Lord Voldemort.
• J.K. Rowling uses charactonyms, names of literary characters suited to their personalities. Draco Malfoy, Dolores Umbridge ("umbrage" means resentment or offense) and Remus Lupin ("lupine" means wolflike) are charactonyms. Other names, such as Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, are clever plays on words.
• Harry, whose forehead sports the most famous scar in the wizarding world, has at least one thing in common with Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore also has a scar, but instead of being shaped like a lightning bolt, Dumbledore's is above his left knee and shaped like the the path of the London Underground, or subway system.
• Voldemort started his rise to power 11 years before Harry was born, gathering his supporters and throwing the wizarding world into villainy and terror. No one knows why he targeted James and Lily Potter, Harry's parents, but on Halloween night, right after Harry was born, he used one of the Unforgiveable Curses to destroy them. When he tried to murder Harry, the curse backfired and nearly destroyed Voldemort.
• Rubeus Hagrid, the half-giant grounds- and gamekeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is not supposed to do magic because he was expelled from Hogwarts in his third year, which is more fully explained in "The Chamber of Secrets." Harry, however, suspects Hagrid keeps the pieces of his wand, broken in two when Hagrid was expelled, hidden in a pink umbrella that is never far from him.
• Harry, as a first-year student at Hogwarts, was required to bring, among other things, three sets of plain work robes; one plain, black, pointed hat for day wear; one pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar, of course); one cauldron (pewter, standard size 2); and an owl, cat or toad -- although toads went out of fashion years ago. Alas, first-years are not allowed their own broomsticks.
• Dumbledore is considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times. He is famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the 12 uses of dragon's blood and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel -- the very same who owned the Sorcerer's Stone, which can turn any metal into gold and produces the Elixir of Life, which makes the drinker immortal. Flamel lived to be 665 before agreeing to destroy the Stone.
• When Harry meets Professor Severus Snape, the Potions teacher, the two instantly dislike each other. Snape treats Harry with the same disdain and condescension with which Harry's father treated him -- but Dumbledore makes a mysterious reference to James Potter saving Snape's life (something to come in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," perhaps?)
• Best advice: "Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." -- Dumbledore