“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s newest book, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” is an enjoyable but surprisingly short and quick read. The 111 pages of “The Tales” contain fewer words than any of Rowling’s other books, since they are double-spaced with large print and wide margins.
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” is a collection of five short stories based in the Harry Potter universe. Rowling introduces them as a series of tales that were written by 15th-century wizard Beedle the Bard and have been enjoyed by wizarding youths for centuries.
“Translated” by Hermione Granger, “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” all sound like tales that might be found in a collection of the Brothers Grimm lost works.
In “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” a young wizard learns a lesson from his dead father’s cauldron.
“The Fountain of Fair Fortune” discusses the journey of three unlucky witches and a knight named Sir Luckless as they try to reach a magical fountain that is purported to provide fair fortune to anyone who bathes in it.
The most gruesome of the five tales is “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” which tells the story of a self-righteous warlock who locks his heart away to keep himself from falling in love, only to go crazy when he places his heart back where it belongs.
In “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump” a muggle (nonmagic) king is convinced that he should be the only person in his kingdom to wield magic.
“The Tale of the Three Brothers,” with its reference to a particularly magical invisibility cloak, is the only story that directly relates to anything in the Harry Potter books. The story is about three wizards who cross a dangerous river by making a bridge over it, denying Death his chance to take them. Death appears on the middle of the bridge and congratulates the three brothers for their cleverness, offering them each a prize of their choice. The youngest and wisest brother requests an invisibility cloak, the description of which is strikingly similar to the one Harry Potter inherits from his father.
While the stories themselves are undeniably cute, the best part of “The Tales” is the commentary at the conclusion of each tale written by Albus Dumbledore. At the end of “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” Dumbledore relates the humorous story behind why Hogwarts stopped having Christmas plays, and at the end of “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” Dumbledore discusses the numerous evil wizards who have wielded elder wands. Each commentary is filled with the quirky wizard logic that makes the “Harry Potter” books so enjoyable.
Overall, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” is an enjoyable way to spend an hour or two. All royalties from the sale of “The Tales” go to Children’s High Level Group, a charity for underprivileged children in Eastern Europe set up by Rowling in 2005, which makes the slim volume worth its $12.99 cost.R-Jeneration