Chris Honor&

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If there's magic to be found in storytelling, J.K. Rowling discovered it, and the rest has been history.

The return of Harry Potter in July will be the seventh and final installment on what has been not just a series about the coming of age of a young wizard, but an epic tale and a cultural phenomenon.

The final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be released at midnight July 20. Be assured that thousands of Potter-heads, young and old, will be queued up across the country (and around the world) in order to snag one of the first copies.

To celebrate this publishing event &

a mixture of excitement and sadness &

Bloomsbury Books has first put out the word that there will be a "Bloomsbury Books Harry Potter Magical Broomstick Contest." After all, broomsticks (such as the Nimbus 2000) are the main mode of transportation for wizards and essential if you're going to play Quidditch, a wizardry game that has similar concepts to water polo.

The idea is to create your own broomstick, let your imagination run wild, attach an index card to your creation explaining the broomstick's function, put your name on the back of the card and bring that creation into Bloomsbury Books by June 30. There are three categories for entries: ages 6 to 9; 10 to 13; and 14 to 17. All broomsticks will be displayed at the bookstore. The winners will be announced at the midnight party, held at the bookstore beginning at 11:30 p.m. July 20. Each category winner will receive a $50 gift certificate.

And yes indeed there will be what has become a much-anticipated midnight party at the book store. It's a celebration like no other and has been ongoing ever since the second Harry Potter book was released. "No one had any idea when the first book came out that it would be such a hit," said Karen Chapman, co-owner of Bloomsbury Books. "We've had some kind of event marking a new Harry Potter book ever since."

"When book number six was published," said Anita Isser, the store's manager, "we had 200-plus people here. The store was filled, and we had a countdown to midnight when we could begin selling the books."

This year Bloomsbury Books has invited an actor from Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the book party. He will be dressed as a wizard and will read from the last chapter of book six, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

"The store has ordered 400 copies of book seven," Chapman said. "Hopefully that will be enough. Last year we ordered 300 books, and the store ran out of copies the day after the release."

Because of the demand, Bloomsbury Books has arranged for buyers to order their books and prepay, with a 30 percent discount. The books will be discounted 25 percent thereafter.

Bloomsbury Books will also donate a copy of "Deathly Hallows" to the school libraries, all of which will be open to the public this summer, though only students can check out books.