The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a delightful tiny book! To tell you the truth, I had low expectation when I picked up the book (which was accidentally just sitting on the library shelf when I passed by), because there’s nothing could be near as good as Harry Potter coming from J.K. Rowling, am I right? Well, even though I am right – it’s nothing Potter – I enjoyed it immensely.
First, if you have not read Harry Potter series, don’t pick up this book. Somehow I got the impression before that this was a stand-alone book. It is in a way, but it had major spoiler for the Potter series. So only pick it up if you have read up until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at least (that’s number 6). I read this book in parallel with Deathly Hallows coincidentally, so I was fine. And it was somehow interesting that when I got to the point where Hermione received The Tales of Beedle the Bard, I was actually reading the Tales at the same time. It just made it more precious in a funny way. Like you KNOW the content of the book when they didn’t (because it hasn’t been translated at that point).
The Tales of Beedle the Bard consists of 5 short fairy tales (sort of, with no fairies): The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock’s Hairy Heart, Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump, and The Tale of The Three Brothers (which appears in the last HP). Each followed by Dumbledore’s commentary. The tales themselves are short and nothing deep, like most fairy tales, but they’re about wizards and witches.
“Beedle’s stories resemble our fairy tales in many respects; for instance, virtue is usually rewarded and wickedness punished. However there is one very obvious difference. In Muggle fairy tales, magic tends to lie at the root of the hero or heroine’s troubles – the wicked witch has poisoned the apple, or put the princess into a hundred years’ sleep, or turned the prince into a hideous beast. In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, on the other hand, we meet heroes and heroines who can perform magic themselves, and yet find it just as hard to solve their problems as we do. Beedle’s stories have helped generations of wizarding parents to explain this painful fact of life to their young children: that magic causes as much trouble as it cures.
Another notable difference between these fables and their Muggle counterparts is that Beedle’s witches are much more active in seeking their fortunes than our fairy-tale heroines. Asha, Althelda, Amata and Babbitty Rabbitty are all witches who take their fate into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe. The exception to this rule – the unnamed maiden of ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’ – acts more like our idea of a storybook princess, but there is no ‘happily ever after’ at the end of her tale.” ~ Introduction by J.K. Rowling
Now what I enjoyed most, was probably Dumbledore’s commentaries. They don’t add much to the story and sometimes he just rambles on. But they build this world that JKR has created. You get to know more details about wands, dark magic, animagus, transfiguration, and all the little details that build this fantasy world which you have spent time on for the past 6-7 books. I also like JKR footnotes explaining the commentaries. The whole format just makes you feel that you’re actually reading a book translated from the real thing.
At this point you might think that I’m such a Potter fan, that’s why I’d think highly of any books that are Potter related. But I don’t think that’s why I like the book. I just love it when a fantasy world gets created in such details that you get to believe that it might be true. That it might exist in some parallel universe out there.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Publication year: 2008
Shortlisted for 2009 WHSmith Children’s Book of the Year (lost to Breaking Dawn)
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches.
Even I, Albus Dumbledore, would find it easiest to refuse the Invisibility Cloak; which only goes to show that, clever as I am, I remain just as big a fool as anyone else.
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