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

January 14, 2009

5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (2008)
Harry Potter, supplemental

Length: 126 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Fairy Tales

Started: 12 January 2009
Finished: 13 January 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 26 December 2008
Verdict? Are you kidding? Keeper, of course.

More Harry Potter!
We want more Harry Potter!
MORE HARRY POTTER!

Summary: This slim volume will provide the legions of Harry Potter fans with a quick glimpse into the wizarding world, through a series of fairy tales. Beedle the Bard lived in the fifteenth century, and this book of tales was ostensibly translated from the ancient runes by Hermione Granger, although her presence is not much felt in the finished product. More noticeable is Albus Dumbledore, whose commentary and analyses are reprinted following each tale.

The tales themselves are much like Muggle fairy tales, although clearly from a different point of view: magic is taken as unexceptional, and the witches and wizards are more frequently the heroes than the villains of the story. “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” tells of the troubles encountered by a wizard who refuses to use his magic to help his Muggle neighbors. “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” tells of three witches on a quest to find the magical waters that can cure all that ails them. “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart” is a darker story of one man’s refusal to be touched by love. “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump” involves a witch’s reaction to persecution by a foolish and magic-fearing king. Finally, “The Tale of the Three Brothers” will be familiar to all readers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and concerns three brothers who outwit Death and take three magical objects from him.

Review: Writing reviews for Rowling’s books seems somewhat pointless – fans of the series will snap this one up without my prompting, and those who haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books are unlikely to be swayed by my opinion, and probably shouldn’t start with this book in any case. Although the tales would probably work well enough as plain fairy tales for someone with no knowledge of the main series, they’re clearly geared towards fans.

This book was fun, light, and an easy way to spend an hour or so in Rowling’s world. My favorite story was probably “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” (it felt the most like a “real” fairy tale), and I definitely enjoyed Dumbledore’s commentary, but ultimately, I was left somewhat unsatisfied. They’re a nice supplement, and a fun read, but they’re over too soon, and we don’t learn much that we didn’t already know from the main series. I’ve been looking at them like a bonus feature – not really necessary to the understanding or enjoyment of the main story, but a nice little extra – plus the proceeds are going to charity, so that’s just added incentive to pick up a copy for your own. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Enjoyable? Yes. Necessary? No. Essential to any true Pottermaniac? Absolutely.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: The Book Lady’s Blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty, Out of the Blue, The Bluestocking Society, Everyday Reads, In Spring it is the Dawn, J. Kaye’s Book Blog, Stella Matutina, Things Mean a Lot, Pop Culture Junkie, Book Maven’s Blog
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2009 12:45 am

    That’s a good way to put it–as a bonus feature. :-)

  2. January 14, 2009 8:38 am

    I was a little disappointed in this book. I think my expectations were too high.

  3. January 14, 2009 12:42 pm

    LOL…love the haiku!

  4. January 14, 2009 12:48 pm

    Hmm. Maybe instead of bothering to write my own review I should just direct people over here, I think we had pretty similar thoughts about this book.

  5. January 14, 2009 3:46 pm

    You outdo yourself with each new haiku :D

    I wish this had been longer too. But it was nice to return to that world.

  6. January 14, 2009 4:27 pm

    Literary Feline – Complete with “director’s” commentary! ;)

    bermudaonion – Obviously, Rowling never intended this to be at the level of the main series books, but I still couldn’t help hoping…

    softdrink – It was easy to write, too! :)

    Dev – Yeah, writing reviews for books this short and this popular always seems a little silly to me, but for some reason I do it anyways.

    Nymeth – In retrospect, just having read Deathly Hallows was not a fantastic idea, since it meant I’d already just read the entirety of the last story, so I really only got four stories’ worth.

  7. January 14, 2009 6:02 pm

    I loved this book, as well, although I also feel like I would have been more satisfied if it were a bit longer! I thought “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” was perhaps the story with the biggest twist, and thus the one that I also enjoyed the most! I just posted a review of the book myself at

    http://wereadtoknow.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/review-the-tales-of-beedle-the-bard/

    From one Potter fan to another: LOVED IT!

  8. January 15, 2009 9:53 am

    Chelsea – I’ve added your link, thanks!

  9. January 15, 2009 11:18 am

    I just finished this one. I thought the stories were ok, but I really loved the commentary. Especially when she started making fun of parents trying to prevent books from being in the library. And finally learning what happened to Nearly Headless Nick.

    Oh, and I love the haiku too!

  10. January 17, 2009 9:13 am

    KT – There were some interesting nuggets in the commentary, for sure!

  11. January 18, 2009 3:39 am

    I agree that it was over much too soon. Love the haiku. Do you think she’ll take the hint? ;)

  12. January 18, 2009 9:32 am

    tanabata – We can only hope!

  13. January 19, 2009 10:50 am

    great review! i’ve been wanting to read this one too, i love the HP series. its true, fans of the series would just grab a copy of this regardless.

  14. January 19, 2009 9:24 pm

    Love the haiku for this one!! I have this one on my desk just waiting every so patiently to be read. Hopefully later this month (although it seems like I say that often). So glad you liked it so well!

  15. January 20, 2009 5:01 pm

    bookworm – Yeah, I don’t suspect it’s all that often that someone will read a book on my say-so… but for books like this, I KNOW no one is reading it because I said it was good. :)

    Trish – It really only takes about an hour… maybe two, tops. Ten minutes per story per day before bed, and it’s done in a week! :)

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