Book review: ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling

A great, fast read for fans of J.K. Rowling’s famed Harry Potter series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard features five folklore vignettes: “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 final story is, of course, instrumental in the seventh and final chapter of Harry’s life, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Each has a moral for wizards and Muggles alike, which are reflected upon after the tale by Albus Dumbledore from his private notes on the stories. Hermione Granger, we’re told, translated the tales from the ancient runes.

Easily readable in an hour or two, I made my way quickly through the book and found it enjoyable. As these are basically childrens’ tales with commentary by J.K. Rowling and Dumbledore, powerful wizard and Harry’s mentor, you’re not going to find anything earth-shattering in these pages. But that’s not the point of them. They’re mostly light, fun stories that read like a Mother Goose tale — except for young witches and wizards instead of Muggles (non-magical humans, for the non-Harry-initiated). They reminded me a bit of my favorite Bernstein Bears books as a child, each with its own message to share. While “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart” was surprisingly gruesome for a children’s story, it wasn’t really anything too traumatic.

Any fan of Potter will be delighted to relive one hundred pages with Dumbledore’s running dialogue, and there’s some insight to be gained about the Wizarding world from Beedle, who lived in the fifteenth century. If you’re not into Harry, there probably won’t be much here for you. But all Rowling fans will be delighted to spend another evening reliving the magic that originally brought us all to Potter in the first place.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0545128285 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

Where’s Waldo? Stirring up controversy, that’s where!

After discovering the “Where’s Waldo?” book series by Martin Hanford on the American Library Association’s top 100 most-challenged books of the 1990s, I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What could be so bad about a children’s book — fun for all ages — that my sister and I poured over for hours upon hours as children? We loved the original volume of the work and would often challenge each other to figure out who could spot our favorite red-and-white striped hitchhiker the fastest!

Of course, I’m a little late to entering the hype over the series — the first “Where’s Waldo?” book was published in 1987 (I was two). But a little Googling got me to the bottom of this craziness pretty quickly. One page in the first “Where’s Waldo?” book featured a tiny, particularly risque character in a beach scene — a topless sunbather. But to be fair, the woman is startled by sort of impish child ramming a cold ice cream cone onto her back! In her surprise, she leaps up and flashes the beachgoers around her.

Mind you, there really isn’t much to be seen here. Not to mention the fact that the female in question is smaller than the size of my thumbnail. But apparently this “lewdness” was enough to land Waldo on the outs with libraries across the country.

Here’s a portion of the controversial page in question, linked from Waldo Wiki:

And here’s the “clean” version, published as part of a special 10th anniversary edition of the book released in 1997:

Is this “risque” difference really enough to land Handford’s illustrated classic on the banned books list? I don’t think so. But some people let their feathers get just a little too ruffled, I guess.