It's Potter Time!

* The countdown clock is now under 24 hours. No, we're not talking about countdown to the space shuttle launch, but the release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the sixth book in the boy wizard series. For those of you who have been in outer space for the last six months: The book will be released at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.

There have been lots of HP tidbits leading up to the release. Here are some of our favorites:

* Several copies of the book have been sold early. A 9-year-old New York boy got a copy of the book this week, but Sylum Mastropaolo returned it after reading "just a few pages." Scholastic, the book's publisher, sent him an HP goody bag for his honesty. There also have been reports of books being sold by mistake in Canada and Indiana.

* For the first time, blind people will be able to read a Harry Potter book at the same time that sighted people can. Normally books become available in Braille, the special type that blind people can read, months after a book is published. Scholastic gave National Braille Press an early version so it could be translated.

* Emerson Spartz, 19, the creator of the amazing Potter Web site www.mugglenet.com, will get to interview J.K. Rowling for an hour tomorrow. Spartz, from Indiana, started his site six years ago.

* You've seen the cover of "Half-Blood Prince" so many times, you're probably sick of poring over it, trying to find the clues that are hidden in Mary GrandPre's illustration. But, at right, you can see the back of the book jacket. We think it's way creepy.

* Some local kids who are too sick to go to Harry Potter parties will get the book delivered to them on Saturday. Children at Georgetown University's cancer center will get the book (or the book on CD) from the Hope for Henry Foundation, named after Henry Strongin Goldberg, a Washington boy who died at age 7 of a rare disease. Henry was a big Harry fan.

Sylum Mastropaolo, 9, with a copy of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which he returned to a store.