Harry Potter and the Philosopher s Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first volume in an ongoing series of (eventually) at least seven books for children written by British author J. K. Rowling, and starring Harry Potter, a young wizard. The book has also been made into a film of the same name.
Both the motion picture and book were released in the United States under the name Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as the publishers were concerned that most Americans were not familiar enough with the term "philosopher's stone" to gain the correct impression from the title. (The renaming of books for international distribution is a common practice, even for highly known and internationally recognised authors.)
Whatever the reasons for the change, it had no effect on the sales figures, and the Harry Potter series rapidly became one of the most-in-demand among young readers, who seemed to be undaunted by the ever-increasing length and complexity of the volumes.
Plot of the book
When Harry Potter was 15 months old, the evil Lord Voldemort killed his parents and tried to kill Harry as well. Harry survived, but a scar remained on his forehead. He was sent to live with his abusive Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. They forced him to live in a cupboard under the stairs, while they spoiled their son Dudley with constant toys and treats. On the week of his 11th birthday, Harry started to get letters, delivered by owls, inviting him to come and study at a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After an intervention by the gigantic Hagrid, Hogwarts' groundskeeper, he is finally permitted to attend, although his aunt and uncle tell everyone that he is attending St. Brutus' School for Incurably Criminal Boys.
At Hogwarts, he befriends Ron Weasley, the youngest son of a poor wizarding family, and Hermione Granger, a muggle-born girl (not of a wizarding family) who is the smartest witch of her age, and develops a rivalry with brat-prince Draco Malfoy. During the first-year initiation, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are sorted into the house of Gryffindor, Malfoy is admitted into Slytherin.
The main plot revolves around the philosopher's stone. Though guarded carefully by the teachers of Hogwarts, Harry and friends uncover a plot to steal the stone, suspecting their Potions teacher, Severus Snape. Pooling their individual strengths, the three manage to get past the various defences which guard the stone, until Harry has to go forward alone to face not Snape, as expected, but Professor Quirrell, who has been acting as host for Lord Voldemort. Voldemort attempts to use Harry to find the stone—the final defense is the Mirror of Erised, which shows the viewer their heart's one true desire, charmed to show the stone only to those who wish to find, but not use it. Voldemort is vanquished, and Quirrell killed, while trying to attack Harry; because of a remnant of his mother's sacrifice.
See Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (movie) for details.
Many fundamentalist Christian groups have called for bans and boycotts of the book, and indeed the entire series, because they deal with, and even endorse, witchcraft, and the books are a common target of book burnings. They cite many (unverified) reports of youth turning to Satanism. The Vatican has commented that the books are not evil and teach the difference between good and evil.