The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
I have read one of Beedle the Bard’s now-famous Tales, “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” because it plays such an integral role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s such an exquisite, simple tale, that I wondered how the rest of the tales would fit in to make a volume. As it turns out, Rowling does her best when she is telling stories within stories. I highly recommend this particular collection.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is an anthology of folksy tales, ostensibly told by magical folk to their children, who then pass it down to their children. They read something like Aesop, something like Grimms’ fairy tales, and something like the wise proverbs you might find in a C.S. Lewis text—I am positive that Ms. Rowling, a classics major in college, drew on these influences and many more. Anyway, they’re all good (although “The Hairy Heart” is fairly gruesome and is definitely written with Edgar Allan Poe in mind) and worth perusing through. My personal favorite is “Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump,” because it employs the mischievous aspect of magic that we’ve come to expect from fairy tales, as well as the clever-outsmarting trope that we often see from people who are placed in positions of servitude or oppression. There are also some truly delightful notes from Albus Dumbledore and J.K. Rowling, which add to the fun of reading the stories.
This is truly the best of the three books. It’s original and innovative, all while borrowing from the fairytale tradition that is established and popular in the Western world. I highly recommend this as enjoyable and entertaining pleasure reading.