He lost the battle of the megaplexes to Frodo and Gollum, but Harry Potter still rules the pop-literary world with powers no one would expect from a bespectacled 'tween. No, not his magic; we mean the dual abilities to turn kids on to reading again and also to keep bookstores afloat. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the long-awaited fifth book in the series, is released Saturday, so if you see fewer kids on the streets this weekend, don't be surprised.
Local booksellers will genuflect to their savior by throwing midnight release parties on Friday, complete with refreshments and time-killers for younger readers, so you can be the first to own J.K. Rowling's latest. The Manchester, Ladue and Crestwood Barnes & Noble stores, for instance, will be queuing in batches à la Southwest Airlines, so that you can enjoy the festivities and not lose your place in line. Tickets are handed out at 9 p.m. and the free parties start at 10 p.m. (call 314-843-9480).
All metro-area Borders locations, meanwhile, get started at 7 p.m. (pre-registration at the customer service desk of your favorite location is strongly recommended) and feature such events as a trivia contest, spelling bee and the ominously titled Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Dudley... if you have to ask, you're a hopeless Muggle (314-432-3575). -- Niles Baranowski
A Clown's Finale
In the annals of clown acts, there have been some spectacular disasters. No one will soon forget the night that 27 clowns emerged from a single Volkswagen Beetle at a Shriners circus in Iowa. Where was clown #28? Under the car and dead as Dillinger. This brings us to Doodles the Klown, a streetwise harlequin who specializes in magic, juggling and -- get this -- the ability to balance a grocery-store shopping cart on his face. See him give free performances at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, at the St. Louis Public Library, Walnut Park Branch (5760 West Florissant Avenue, 314-383-1210), and at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, at the Machacek Branch (6424 Scanlan Avenue, 314-781-2948). God be with you, Doodles. -- Byron Kerman