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Harry Potter: The Magic Is At Hand

In honor of this weekend's publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, CBS News' The Early Show convened a panel of youngsters to talk about the magic of the Potter books.

They were Sam Hast, 10; Penny King, 11; Linc Allen, 12, and Lucas Rijper-Greenidge, 9. Young readers will have plenty to enjoy in the latest book. J.K. (Joanne) Rowling wrote up to 10 hours a day so she could finish the latest saga which, at 640 pages, is one of the longest children's books ever written.

"I was shocked to see how long it was," she confessed after the magnum opus was complete. "It is the central book. It is pivotal in every sense. I had to get it right."

And in a pre-publication interview with The Times of London last month, she confirmed that her young readers would have to grapple with the death of one of the main characters.

"This is the book in which the deaths start. I always planned it this way. It has become a bit of an idee fixe with me. I have to follow it just the way I wanted to write it, and no one is going to knock me off course."

Forcefully defending the book, she said, "If it is done right, I think it will be upsetting but it is not going to be damaging."

Early Show panel member Lucas said he thinks it's a good idea "because it will make it more interesting. You don't want only the bad guys lose. You want so it's spread out and the good guys also have losses."

In general, Sam said he likes the books because "they're suspenseful, humorous and exciting."

Linc's favorite character is Ron, "'cause he's a lot like me. He has a bunch of freckles, and I do, too. And he's kind of funny and stuff. I'm a little bit funny."

Penny's favorite Harry Potter book is the second one, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

"A magical world with all these interesting ideas, I think it just appeals to a lot of kids and adults, too," she added.

A spell-binding 1.5 million copies of the new Harry Potter tale will roll off the presses to meet readers' demand for the boy wizard, Bloomsbury Publishing said in June.

"We have certainly never heard of anyone else doing such a large first print of a book, children's or otherwise," said Sarah Odedina, editorial director of children's books at the London-based publisher.

The fourth adventure of Potter has conjured up a torrent of demand.

Amazon.com said the launch is set to be the biggest online bestseller ever, with orders already flooding in from across the globe.

"We are basically catering for demand," said Odedina. "We will be reprinting almost straight away, I'm sure."

Anything above 5,000 copies is considered a respectable first print for any book but with Potter, Rowling has hit magical heights.

Lucky fans in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland will be able to get their hands on the bok on the same day as British readers but those in other countries will have to wait.

The saga is expected to be translated into 49 languages and sold in about 110 countries.

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