THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD; J. K. Rowling (translated from the Runic originals by Hermione Granger); New York: Scholastic, 2008; 111pgs. Fiction
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” is a lightweight in the J. K. Rowling canon, but it has its delights, nonetheless. The stories themselves are fair to middling, some of them a tad bit violent for the younger set, such as “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart” in which a a wizard, his heart grown hairy from being set aside, tears the heart from his fiance’s bosom. However, Albus Dumbledore himself points out the foolishness of trying to sugar up the grim but cautionary in true fairy tales by pointing out the failure of Beatrice Bloxam’s “Toadstool Tales” revisions to produce anything except retching in generations of Wizarding children. Lighter-hearted stories are included, such as “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump,” but the true charm of this volume lies in Dumbledore’s commentaries, which show J. K. Rowling’s genius to great effect as she elaborates on the world of wizardry created in Harry Potter, and especially on the fun of it. Dumbledore’s story of one of Beedle’s stories being staged as a play is great fun, as an Ashwinder called upon to play the part of The Worm lays fiery eggs which threaten to burn down the hall, and the two principles, formerly boyfriend and girlfriend, fire spells at each other until everyone is forced to run for the exits. The hints and subtexts in “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” make one wish to return to Harry Potter for the first time, but as Wizarding philosopher Bertrand de Pensees-Profondes thoughtfully points out, “Give it up. It’s never going to happen.” All profits from “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” will go to the very worthy cause of the Children’s High Level Group, as explained in the back of the book.