Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Book Poster Image
Fourth Potter has brilliant plotting -- and dragons.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 90 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

J. K. Rowling borrows from many established stories and myths to piece together her magical world. Kids can look up more about dragons, mermaids, flying brooms, magic wands, etc., compare the author's take with other interpretations, and think about how and why she weaves these magical elements and beings into her stories. See the "Families Can Talk about" section for more discussion ideas.

Positive messages

Friendship, love, bravery, and loyalty are always major themes in the series. This book also tackles sportsmanship (the students seem to possess it, while the adults cheat and gamble), activism, the drawbacks of fame, and why you shouldn't believe everything you read or hear -- especially if you heard it from Rita Skeeter!

Positive role models & representations

Harry faces many big challenges bravely in this book -- dragons on up to Voldemort. He has good mentors in his godfather, Sirius, and Dumbledore; Hermione and Ron are mostly supportive, though it takes a while for Ron to get over his jealousy of Harry. Hermione becomes an activist for house-elf rights and sticks with it despite her lack of support. Despite some adults trying to lead the Triwizard competitors astray, Harry always shows sportsmanlike conduct -- fair play is very important to him.

Violence

Four (bloodless) murders and a self-mutilation. The murder of one of the teen characters is the most disturbing. Harry is captured and tortured -- blood is drawn. Harry and other school champions are also in mortal danger with the tasks they perform for the Triwizard Tournament. Dragons breathe fire at them and creatures attack underwater.

Sex

The boys and girls are starting to notice each other in a new way, but there are only mild flirtations. Some students are caught "snogging" in the bushes after the Yule Ball.

Language

"Bloody hell," "piss off," and similar light curses, plus a few uses of "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Madame Maxime's horses only drink single-malt whiskey. Students drink butterbeer -- a magical-world drink with a pinch of alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that brilliant plotting and pacing and increasingly rich characterizations will keep kids enthralled. Kids will be upset when a teen character dies, and sensitive readers may have trouble with the idea of a hand being severed and Harry's capture and torture. Since the characters are 14, they're starting to notice the opposite sex; J.K. Rowling handles this well. This fourth book in the series keeps the positive messages of friendship and loyalty going strong. Parents who want to learn more about the series (and spin-off movies and games) can read our Harry Potter by Age and Stage article.

User Reviews

Adult Written byLowvid Mom March 21, 2009

Half clued in

I just finished reading this book to my 8 year old. I have read the first three to him as well. I agree that children 10 and older will probably get more from t...
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written byFantasyFiend12 October 10, 2009
This book holds an excellent fantasy novel that really any age can enjoy. I've reread it so much and can never get over Rowling's genius imagination.
Kid, 10 years old February 18, 2013

Good movie, better book

I think that this movie is really good. I think that If you've read the book, it's fine for kids about 8 years old. This movie is defently worth watch...

What's the story?

After attending the Quidditch World Cup, where Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters, cause a riot, Harry heads to Hogwarts for his fourth year of wizard study. There, Headmaster Dumbledore announces that instead of the usual interhouse Quidditch matches, Hogwarts will host the Triwizard Tournament. This competition between the great wizard schools of Europe has not been held for centuries because of the high death toll. The magic Goblet of Fire chooses one champion to represent each school, but somehow Harry is also chosen, even though he is underage and Hogwarts already has a champion. Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, suspects that this is another plot against Harry's life. As Voldemort is returning to his full power, and complex and deadly schemes are in motion, few people are who they seem to be, and even Dumbledore's protection may not be enough to keep Harry safe this time.

Is it any good?

Rowling is one of the great masters of plotting; throughout the incredible length of this novel, the pace only flags once. Once again the story seems to go in a dozen directions at first, with many seemingly unrelated characters and events, but hardly a word is wasted -- all comes together in a heart-pounding series of climaxes that are breathtaking, brutal, and, at times, moving.

Rowling makes some powerful statements about fairness and diversity, the nature of courage, and friendship. Children ages 8 to 10 who loved the first three books will find this one tougher going -- not just for its length but also for the convoluted plot, un-translated British vocabulary, and some horrific and deadly scenes that may concern parents. Older readers will love the satires on politics, the media, and professional sports. And the heroes' entrances into adolescence -- tentative, funny, and very real -- will have readers squirming in sympathy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they saw coming and what was a surprise. Many kids say this book is their favorite in the series -- if so, why? If not, which book wins out?

  • Before it came out in 2000, the author warned her young fans that someone will be murdered in the book. For sensitive readers, is it a help to know ahead of time that an upsetting event is coming?

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