Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

"Wizards still have not found a way of reuniting body and soul once death has occurred. As the eminent Wizarding philosopher Bertrand de Pensees-Profondes writes in his celebrated work A Study into the Possibility of Reversing the Actual and Metaphysical Effects of Natural Death, with Particular Regard to the Reintegration of Essence and Matter: 'Give it up. It's never going to happen.'"

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the quintessential enjoyable children's book. It's very different from J.K. Rowling's other books, which were firmly within the realm of Young Adult literature at least. The first and most noticeable difference with Beedle is the font size, which is this big, the better for little eyes to decipher I suppose. This font has the added bonus of turning Beedle into a chapterbook that (barely) exceeds 100 pages. All in all, it took me about an hour to read.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard was first introduced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in Rowling's series. Hermione is gifted an original copy of the book from the estate of Albus Dumbledore after his death. In it, the story of "The Three Brothers" introduced Harry, Hermione and Ron to the Elder Wand, with which [SPOILER ALERT] Harry eventually kills Voldemort.

Like "The Three Brothers," all of the stories in Beedle are morally edifying, and teach the kind of lessons that young witches and wizards should take to heart. Thus, they don't resemble Muggle fairytales so much as Aesop's fables. In this edition, readers get the added bonus of Dumbledore's own footnotes following each story. The footnotes give additional information about wizarding lore, facts about the magical world and humorous asides.

It is this humor, this intentional naughtiness that you find in the very best children's books that I most enjoyed in Beedle. Like my other favorite children's book, J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy, Beedle was clearly written to be enjoyed by both the adult and child reader, for different reasons. Funny asides reveal themselves in the footnotes, and I can imagine that many of them would go right over a young child (or young wizard's!) head.

So there you have it. A short review for a short book. You can get this one at the bookstore for about ten dollars and if you are any kind of Harry Potter fan at all, I'd say buy it. All the proceeds go to a European children's charity, so you can pat yourself on the back for that too.


Amanda said...

Being an extreme HP fan, I preordered this and waited up until UPS delivered it around 10pm the day of release. I managed to wait until morning to read it. My favorite was The Fountain of Fair Fortune.

Christopher said...

You're killing it!

Treasures By Brenda said...

We enjoyed it, although my son and his Aunt more so than I. To read what we thought, visit The Tale of Beedle The Bard. I would be thrilled if you would leave a message about what you thought of the book!