I have wanted to read this book for an awfully long time – since I learnt of its publication, in fact – and I
purchased a copy for my boyfriend a couple of years ago now, thinking that it wouldn’t take him long to get to and that I could read it afterwards. It is, however, still sitting unread on his bookshelf. I decided to eventually borrow The Tales of Beedle the Bard from my local library, and read it in less than an hour one chilly February evening. The book itself is lovely, despite the fact that the copy which I borrowed was very worn and looked as though children had chewed on its corners.
I had hoped that it would not be disappointing, as I have sadly found the other Harry Potter companion books to be so. I remember reading a lot of mixed feedback for this book – some gushing, and others not very complimentary at all – around its publication, so I did not set my expectations too high upon beginning it.
Beedle the Bard supposedly lived in the fifteenth century, and was the original author of these stories. The additional commentary to the volume has been ‘written by’ Professor Dumbledore, and the entirety is said to have been translated by Hermione Granger.
Five stories in all are collected in The Tales of Beedle the Bard – ‘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’. The introduction to the volume states that this book is ‘a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches. They have been popular bedtime reading for centuries… [Here] we meet heroes and heroines, who can perform magic themselves, and yet find it just as hard to solve their problems as we do’. The introduction is quite amusing, comparing the tales rather favourably to ‘Muggle’ fairytales, and stating such things as, ‘Asha, Altheda, Amata and Babbitty Rabbitty are all witches who take their fate into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe’.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a very quick read, and the stories themselves are more like fables really. The illustrations are sweet, and the use of imagined history in Dumbledore’s commentary works well too. Whilst it is a nice addition to the Harry Potter stories, The Tales of Beedle the Bard does feel rather underwhelming, and it does become a little repetitive after a while. I presume that I probably would have preferred it far more had I still been a child upon reading it.