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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 11, 2001

Waipahu mom's wizardry wins private screening

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

A Waipahu mother who reads "Harry Potter" to her 6-year-old daughter at bedtime has used a little bit of e-wizardry to create a fan page that has netted her a private screening of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" when it opens Friday.

"I don't know what theater, or when the screening is, so there's still a little bit of mystery," said Sherry Yager-Sinclair, who works as a victims advocacy volunteer, and is known in her work circle as Timmie Sinclair, the nickname referring to "the boy my father never had."

"Let's just say that I got to be a kid vicariously, reading all Potter books to my daughter when she was 4," said Sinclair, who secretly and reluctantly entered an AOL Harry Potter contest because Brynna, now 6, was too young.

"The contest was for those 13 and up," said Sinclair, not revealing her age. "She was devastated that she couldn't compete. I was 'and up' and I didn't tell Brynna I entered, just in case she got her hopes high and I didn't win."

The prize, one of 10 nationwide, is the once-in-a-lifetime chance of inviting 200 friends or family to the first-day screening of "Potter."

Sinclair said that she's taking Brynna's entire Voyager Charter School (population: 140), 20 staff members and assorted friends to the screening. Once she finds out what theater and specific time. "They're keeping some of the things mum," she said in her Scottish accent.

"It's been incredibly exciting," said Sinclair, who, with husband Peter, the head naval architect with Navatek (he designs ships, not tour boats), arrived here May 3 and settled into a Waipahu townhouse 12 hours later.

"Daddy and I are always in the room, reading to Brynna, and Ms. Rowling (author J.K. Rowling) has a wondrous way to make Harry safe at the end of each chapter," said Sinclair. "I would read a chapter ahead, to make sure nothing is scary for Brynna, and once we got into the groove, we couldn't stop. It was like Dr. Seuss, a family read; when she turned 5, she started reading herself. Imagine a 5-year-old reading at the 7th grade level."

The fascination started in Britain, where the Sinclairs previously lived. "I bought a book at a little shop in London, to give it a try, and it's really good reading. In England, they have two covers — one for kids, the one we bought, and one for adults."

The family heard about the AOL contest through a Potter newsletter. While she surfs the Internet, Sinclair said she was a novice at designing her own page. She found rules at a Web site and tweaked her way into devising an entry. "I know what looks good and what doesn't, but I really wasn't sure how to do it."

But she won. "When I told Brynna, she was in orbit," said Sinclair. "She went white — the color drained out of her face. 'Can I take my friends?' she asked. 'You can take the whole school,' I told her."

Brynna wants to dress up as Hermione, one of the Rowling characters, and her role model.

"She likes her because she's smart," said mom.

Sinclair, a psychologist by training, said she is an advocate for read-aloud sessions. Rowling, she said, clearly has cross-generational appeal and is ideal family fare. "It's got good imagination and darn good stories, with likeable, real characters and good vs. evil issues."

• To see Sherry Sinclair's winning fan page, go to hometown.aol.com/timmie007/hogwarts.html.