The Tales of Beedle The Bard

Title: The Tales of Beedle The Bard
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: fairy tales
Number of pages: 107
Release date: Today! December 4, 2008
Rating: 5 out of 5 (and I’m not even crazed about Harry)
Price: $12.99 at Borders, $7.15 at Amazon.com
I’ve been greatly anticipating this book, mostly so that I can share it with my class. Imagine my surprise then, upon reading it tonight, when I discovered how truly magical this is. Fairy tales? Yes! Stupendous, glorious, high level vocabulary stories with a lesson? YES!
From the Introduction itself:
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches. They have been popular bedtime reading for centuries, with the result that the Hopping Pot and the Fountain of Fair Fortune are as familiar to many of the students at Hogwarts as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are to Muggle (non-magical) children.

Beedle’s stories resemble our fairy tales in many respects; for instance, virtue is usually rewarded, and wickedness punished. However, there is one very obvious difference. In Muggle fairy tales, magic tends to lie at the root of the hero’s or heroine’s troubles-the wicked witch has poisoned the apple, or put the princess into a hundred-year’s sleep, or turned the prince into a hideous beast. In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, on the other hand we meet heroes and heroines who can perform magic themselves, and yet find it just as hard to solve their problems as we do. Beedle’s stories have helped generations of Wizarding parents to explain this painful fact of life to their young children: that magic causes as much trouble as it cures.

Another notable difference between these fables and their Muggle counterparts is that Beedle’s witches are much more active in seeking their fortunes than our fairy-tale heroines. Asha, Altheda, Amata, and Babbitty Rabbitty are all witches who take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a proglonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe. The exceptions to this rule—the unnamed maiden of “the Warlock’s Hairy Heart”—acts more like our idea of a storybook princess, but there is no ‘happily ever after’ at the end of her tale.

Beedle the Bard lived in the fifteenth century, and much of his life remains shrouded in mystery. We know that he was born in Yorkshire, and the only surviving woodcut shows that he had an exceptionally luxuriant beard. If his stories accurately reflect his opinions, he rather liked Muggles, whom he regarded as ignorant rather than malevolent; he mistrusted Dark Magic, and he believed that the worst excesses of wizardkind sprang from the all-too-human traits of cruelty, apathy or arrogant misapplication of their own talents. The heroes and heroines who triumph in his stories are not those with the most powerful magic, but rather those who demonstrate the most kindness, common sense, and ingenuity.”

We find five fairy tales in this work: “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”. Interspersed with these stories is a commentary from Albus Dumbledore “which include observations on Wizarding history, personal reminiscences, and enlightening information on key elements of each story, (that) will help a new generation of both Wizarding and Muggle readers appreciate The Tales of Beedle The Bard.”

Truly, it’s a special book. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s what I’ll begin reading to my class first thing tomorrow morning, anyway.

A review of this book, from the Chicago Tribune, can be found here.

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19 thoughts on “The Tales of Beedle The Bard”

  1. I was wondering about this one, but I'm glad to hear you liked it so well! I think this would make a perfect gift (um, for me too). Haha!Did your kiddos like it?

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  2. And can I tell you that one of my fondest Christmas memories is my third grade teacher reading us The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I guess that was 19 years ago now and I still remember it well.

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  3. Chris, it's one of those books that you can read in one sitting, but you'll want to come back to read them again and again. I think I'll do that at least.Literary Feline, I doubt you'll be disappointed. Rowling's creativity is really something, but every better is the way she's brought in some lessons.Les, I'll bet you were swamped!JoAnn, even some grown up wizards and witches would love it. ;)Robin, I bet your class would like these fairy tales read to them. I only read the first to my class, because I don't want to spoil the surprises in case they receive a copy as a present.Trish, I always read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! to my class. That book is awesome: so, so, so funny (those Herdmans!) with an ending that almost makes me cry.Nymeth, you'll especially love it being the Harry Potter fan! There are pieces of information that you'll catch from Dumbledore's commentary that I'm sure go right past me.

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  4. Trish, have you ever read the sequel? Don't, it's not nearly so good. Anyway, just thinking of the Herdmans brings a smile to my face: the whole cigar smoking, garage door thumping, mean cat owning, pussy willow in your ear bunch.

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  5. I'm not sure if I'm going to get this one or not – your review has me leaning more toward get it than not – but I wanted to chime in on the fact that you read to your class. One of my most vivid grade school memories was that of my sixth grade teacher reading to us during 'snack time'. Yes, we were all reading by ourselves by then but we would pick a book as a class and she would read to us. The one book I remember the most was about Paul Revere. It honestly fostered a love of history that's still with me today.As I've said before – you are one heck of a teacher!cjh

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  6. CJ, thanks for your kind words. I have to say, Read Aloud is one of my favorite times of the day, and I would be safe in saying that goes for the kids, too. They sit by me on the rocker, and when I end a chapter they yell, "More! More!"" It helps in a myriad of ways: vocabulary development, listening, comprehension, but best of all it fosters the love of reading. Which is one of the best giftsI can leave with them.

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  7. Thanks to your recommendation, I bought this the other day and read the first story. Then went over to my parents and told them the first story. And then my dad told me a story about how his dad got called Mr. Wizard… because the school kids who came to the grocery store couldn't always pronounce his name… Mr. Withers. (all these years, and I've never heard that story about my grandfather)Anyway…. I use to love to sit outside my kids bedrooms at night and read outloud to them. They loved it.Great book. I plan on passing it down to my nephews…after I'm done reading it.

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  8. Lady Tink, my TBR pile is towering…so I had to move half of it to the family room. Now I have TBR piles EVERYWHERE! Samantha, I think you'll like it.Brenda, how fun! I love how stories we read lead to learning stories about our own lives; you shared such a great example! I loved reading to my son, too, and even though he's 18 he still lets me read to him when he's sick. I hope you enjoy it, and your nephews do too. You'll have some fun discussions, I bet.

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  9. My review is up now too. The tales really were wonderful. I loved Dumbledore's commentary too, with his historical notes and little allusions to the books. Very fun!

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