Friday, December 05, 2008

Tales of Beedle the Bard

(Photo courtesy of ABC.com)

Okay. So maybe my cover doesn't look exactly like this, but hey...I thought it might catch your attention.

After catching the enthusiasm of my friend Margaret, I was off to my local chain bookstore between classes to pick up Tales of Beedle the Bard. I hadn't been planning of buying it, but Margaret has a way of upping the ante when it comes to fostering my love for Harry Potter (or Snape, as it were).

I took the advice of Susan over at Wizard's Wireless, and I didn't rush through...I took my time.

When readers open the book they find that it's "Translated from the Ancient Runes by Hermione Granger", has "Commentary by Albus Dumbledore", and has an "Introduction, Notes, and Illustrations by J.K. Rowling". This lends to feeling that the reader is back in the wizarding world and that the tales are part of the cultural reality of Harry and the gang.

Now, I am not one of those HP fans that remembers every last detail of every book. I do know kids like this. They can recite charms, list character facts and draw a map of Hogwarts at a moment's notice. Not me. But it didn't matter.

There are 5 tales within the book, and each tale is followed by Dumbledore's comments with additional footnotes by Rowling. Of the five, my favourite is "The Warlock's Hairy Heart". It's gruesome in the tradition of early Grimm, and is written is such a way that the reader has an amazing visual in mind. I was actually scared for a moment or two as well! What a treat to read fairy tales where I am not sure what is about to happen!

Each story is different than the one before, and I think there is something in there for everyone. There is also an interesting commentary on the censorship of children's stories (hhmmmm...wonder why?). "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" was not only challenged by the Malfoy clan for the mixing of pure blood and muggle bloods (don't want to give the kiddies any wayward ideas), but it was actually rewritten by Beatrix Bloxam who believed that the tales of Beetle the Bard were "damaging to children, because of what she called their unhealthy preoccupation with the most horrid subjects, such as death, disease, bloodshed, wicked magic, unwholesome characters, and bodily effusions and eruptions of the most disgusting kind." (p.17)

Brilliant, I say.

These are fun, scary and sophisticated stories. Followers of Harry Potter would do well to give it a read. I think that fans of traditional fairy tales might want to give these a whirl as well.

2 comments:

Angela said...

I'm looking forward to this one--I saw it in Walmart the other day and hope Santa brings it for Christmas...

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I got a copy when it came out and my fiance and are reading a tale together every couple of nights (trying to make it a slower read) So far, I'm loving it. I loved the commentary on challenging books and thought it was very clever how Rowling worked that into the tales.