The Tales Of Beedle The Bard, by J.K. Rowling,
As one of the lesser-read books in the larger family of Harry Potter works, this book has a large role in the action of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, including one of the tales that deals with the three mysterious Hallows themselves. Partly, one imagines, in order to avoid accusations of cashing in too strenuously on the Harry Potter universe, and partly as well to show her own generosity, the proceeds of this book were donated to a not-for-profit called the Children’s High Level Group, which specializes in giving vulnerable children a voice and helping to provide for their creativity in adverse circumstances. As far as causes go, it’s a good one.
The contents of this book itself are well-written, though rather slight. Only five tales are included here: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Tump,” and the most famous of the tales, “The Tale Of The Three Brothers,” dealing with those aforementioned Hallows, relics of great power. The actual tales themselves are well-written, and include commentary purportedly by Albus Dumbledore (some of this commentary is intelligent and humane, some of it is rather biting and sarcastic towards his goat charming brother, a bit hypocritical when one considers his own immorality, and some of it is coy and dishonest, especially concerning the quest for the Hallows). The translation of these tales is purportedly done by Hermoine Granger (perhaps a way for her to use her knowledge of Ancient Runes and show that her love of Ron did not make her brain turn to mush, contrary to fans of the series who may find Hermoine’s ending in the main series of novels to be less than satisfactory). There are also some occasional footnotes from JKR that comment on other characters as well.
The biggest disappointment of this work is that it is so brief. It staggers belief that a lore-loving people, such as the wizards of the Harry Potter universe are supposed to be, would only have 5 fairy tales for children. Even Muggle [i.e. non-magical] children need more than that many Disney movies to keep interested during their youths, and it beggars belief that there would not have been dozens more tales to collect. The tales included here are good ones, dealing with concerns of using one’s gifts to serve others, the fact that we are often blessed through self-examination and our reflection on the journey of life as opposed to the supposed blessings of magical fountains, the folly of seeking invulnerability from the feelings of our hearts, despite the pain that love and emotions sometimes bring us, the dangers of a mad quest for power, as well as the folly of trying to escape death. Many of these concerns are ones that reader of this work will appreciate being dealt with in such a thoughtful and skillful manner. One simply wishes there was more to read–it would not have been difficult for this book to merit several times its length, had it been fleshed out properly.