McDonald’s Happy Meals Now Come With Roald Dahl Books Instead of Toys in New Zealand

Wee Sen Goh, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Wee Sen Goh, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Would you like a Matilda or BFG to go with your burger and fries? If you're a young Kiwi, you just might get your wish. McDonald's restaurants in New Zealand are ditching the Pokemon and Hello Kitty toys and filling their Happy Meal boxes with excerpts of Roald Dahl books instead, The Independent reports.

With titles like Fantabulous BFG, Amazing Matilda, and Lucky Charlie Bucket, these abridged versions of classic Dahl tales have been specially created for McDonald's Happy Meal Readers program. The books also contain stickers and activities for kids to complete. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McDonald's plans to hand out 800,000 booklets over the course of six weeks.

Jo Mitchell, director of marketing at McDonald's New Zealand, says the global reading program is designed to inspire more children to take an interest in reading. Plus, the nostalgia surrounding Dahl's books appeals to parents, too. "The Roald Dahl characters are ones that many parents will have enjoyed growing up, and it's great to play a part in introducing them to a new generation," Mitchell told The Independent.

This isn't the first time McDonald's has paired books with children's meals, though. The Happy Meal Readers program has given away about 450 million books since it launched in 2001. Sweden was the first country to implement the program, and McDonald's outlets in New Zealand have been participating for about a decade. A similar program is ongoing in Malaysia, where children can choose between a toy or a book by English author Cressida Cowell (the author of How to Train Your Dragon).

Last year, McDonald's announced it planned to expand the Readers program to more than 100 markets by 2019.

[h/t The Independent]

New Harry Potter Scrabble Accepts Wizarding Words Like Hogwarts and Dobby

USAopoly
USAopoly

Patronus, Hogwarts, and Dobby may not be words found in the official Scrabble dictionary, but they are very real to Harry Potter fans. Now there's finally a board game that lets players win points using the magical vocabulary made famous by the Harry Potter books and movies. SCRABBLE: World of Harry Potter from USAopoly is a new edition of Scrabble that recognizes characters, place names, spells, and potions from J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World.

Like traditional Scrabble, players use the letter tiles they pick up to spell out words on the board, with different words earning different point values. Any word you can find in an up-to-date Merriam-Webster Dictionary is still fair game, but in this version, terms coined in Harry Potter qualify as well. First and last names, whether they belong to characters (Albus or Dumbledore, for example) or actors from the franchise (Emma or Watson), are playable. You can also spell magical place names (like Hogsmeade), spells (accio), and objects (snitch).

Harry Potter version of Scrabble.
USAopoly

Showing off the depth of your Harry Potter knowledge isn't the only reason to put wizarding words on the board. Magical words are worth bonus points, with players earning more points the longer the word is. SCRABBLE: World of Harry Potter also includes cards with special challenges for players—a feature that can't be found in any other version of the game.

This Harry Potter edition of Scrabble will be available for $30 at Barnes & Noble and other retailers this spring. Until then, there are plenty of Harry Potter-themed games, including wizarding chess, out there for you to play.

Harry Potter version of Scrabble.
USAopoly

J.K. Rowling Has Some Regrets About Ron and Hermione's Relationship in Harry Potter

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

In 2011, following the theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, many Potterheads found themselves at the end of an era in their lives. Fans were saddened by the fact that the series had come to an end—and even today, eight years later, it's still a sore subject for many longtime readers. But the pain has been somewhat alleviated thanks to Pottermore, new books such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and even insightful tweets from J.K. Rowling herself.

Did you really think the Potterverse would just be forgotten overnight? No, of course not. In fact, it only seems to keep growing with time as new readers and viewers come to the books and movies, thanks in large part to Rowling’s openness to sharing pieces of non-canon trivia.

One surprising admission Rowling shared following the conclusion of the series is that she had some misgivings about pairing up Ron and Hermione. In an interview conducted by Emma Watson in 2014, the author told the actress that she put Ron and Hermione together because she wanted to see them together, but that in many ways Harry and Hermione would have been the better fit.

"I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment," Rowling said. "That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron."

Though Rowling knew that her words would be met with "rage and fury" by some fans, she explained that "distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility ... There was too much fundamental incompatibility."

In a later interview, however, Rowling (possibly backtracking) said she thought Harry and Ginny were more like soulmates, whereas Ron and Hermione were a kind of an opposites-attract couple. “[They] are drawn to each other because they balance each other out. Hermione's got the sensitivity and maturity that's been left out of Ron, and Ron loosens up Hermione a bit, gets her to have some fun,” the author explained. “They love each other and they bicker a bit, but they enjoy bickering, so we shouldn't worry about it."

Whether or not Ron and Hermione should’ve been together in Rowling’s eyes, all that truly matters is that they did end up together—and made some pretty cute kids to boot.

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