J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beetle the Bard released today

Since July 21, 2007, the release date of the Harry Potter series final installment (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Harry Potter fans have been in withdrawal. Their withdrawal has somewhat lessened today with the release of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is mentioned quite frequently in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter discuss the tales. Hermione receives the original arrangement of the tales from the will of Albus Dumbledore, and translates them from Ancient Runes into English for the two boys. Ron, being a member of a pureblood Wizarding family, heard the tales during his childhood; whereas Hermione and Harry grew up in Muggle (non-magical) families. Through the ambiguous intentions of Albus Dumbledore in giving Hermione the Tales, the trio learns that the use of the Deathly Hallows, included in “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, is one way to vanquish Lord Voldemort and match Voldemort’s Horcruxes (Dark magic objects that contain fragments of a person’s soul). The Deathly Hallows are the three objects the three brothers receive for outsmarting Death, including an unbeatable wand, a stone to reawaken the dead and a genuine invisibility cloak. Towards the end of the novel, Harry and Voldemort try to beat the other to these three objects, and Harry is victorious in gaining all three by the end of the war between the two foes.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a touching installment to the literature dedicated to the world of Harry Potter, for the conclusion of each tale includes commentary by Albus Dumbledore, a beloved character who perishes at the end of the sixth book in the series (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). J.K. Rowling provides the introduction, as well as her own footnotes and doodles throughout the 110 pages of the novella. In the introduction, Rowling compares the tales to its Muggle counterparts, saying “we meet heroes and heroines who can perform magic themselves, and yet find it just as hard to solve their problems as we [Muggles] do” (p VIII).

The compilation includes five Wizarding equivalents to fairy tales, written by Beedle the Bard and translated in this novella by Hermione Granger. (J.K. Rowling is in fact the mastermind behind it all.)  Those five tales include: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Crackling Stump” and the aforementioned “The Tale of the Three Brothers”.

Harry Potter fans, eager to be in touch once again with the Wizarding world, may be slightly disappointed with the tales. The Tales, being completely separate from the plot line of the series, does not provide continuations of the epilogue contained in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just as the two other secondary books complementing the Wizarding world, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard provides further insight into the literature mentioned in the series.

A letter to the reader from Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, MEP, Co-Chair of CHLG (Children’s High Level Group) concludes the novella, explaining how Nicholson and Rowling created this charity in 2005 helping “to change the lives of institutionalized and marginalized children, and try to make sure that no future generation suffers in this way” (p 109). All the proceeds of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are being donated to this organization. The book is being sold by Scholastic for $12.99.