As you’ve probably already noticed, I am a fan of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. My admiration came from a young age, but despite this, I’ve yet to read all of J.K. Rowling’s works.
This Halloween, I binge-watched the first three installments of the movies.
It’s been a while since I immersed myself in the glory of the Harry Potter series and I’ll admit, I miss it. Still, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read all seven installments consecutively, therefore, I decided to read The Tales of Beedle The Bard.
“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.”
What You Need to Know
Age Group: 10+
Length: 105 pages
Illustrations were drawn by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPré, who also illustrated all seven of the Harry Potter books. According to Scholastic, proceeds of this novel will benefit the Children’s High-Level charity, which protects children’s rights and seeks to protect young people.
What It’s About
The Tales of Beedle The Bard is a collection of short stories, first mentioned in the last installment of The Harry Potter series. The Tale of The Three Brothers, in particular, helped the trio defeat Lord Voldemort. These stories are popular among young wizards and witches, and have often been challenged by wizards who are anti-muggle. The current installment had been translated by Hermione Granger after it was given to her by Albus Dumbledore. The collection is comprised of 5 different tales: The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock’s Hairy Heart, Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump, and The Tale of the Three Brothers.
The tales include commentary written by Albus Dumbledore eighteen months prior to his death.
What I think
Author, Stephen King, says “A lot of writers […]have a tendency to think of ‘the novel’ and once you get your mind set on ‘the novel,’ it’s very easy to lose whatever trick is that involves writing a short story.”
So, how many of my favorite authors can write good short stories?
J.K. Rowling is definitely one of them.
Each of the stories in The Tales of Beedle the Bard has a different message, as it should be, but one thing I enjoy is the coherence throughout the collection. Given that the events in the Harry Potter series deal with bloodlines and the balance between good and evil, it makes sense that the fictional folklore of the wizarding world would influence pro and anti-muggle wizards.
Overall, the collection was a fun read that could be easily enjoyed snuggled in a blanket and cup of hot chocolate at hand.
The Wizard and The Hopping Pot
The plot of the first story is fairly simple. A selfish wizard, whose father was a famous healer, inherits an enchanted pot. Inside the pot, there is a shoe with a note reading: “In the fond hope, my son, that you will never need this.” The mean-hearted man, refuses to help those who seek medical care. With each refusal, the pot develops the malady of the person and grows a foot to follow him around. The wizard can no longer sleep due the noise made by the pot, and decides to cure all of those brought before him. The pot then begins to heal and the shoe appears once more. The wizard then places the shoe on the foot of the pot, and they walk off into the sunset.
I’ll be honest, this wasn’t one of my favorite stories in the collection. The story was well-written but I didn’t take much from the story.
I enjoyed the after-notes with Dumbledore, however short they may have been.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune
The second story is about a mystical fountain, rumored to grant fair fortune to those who bathe in it. No person has been able to accomplish the feat, but one day, three witches are able to penetrate the walls surrounding the fountain. One of the witches accidentally drags a knight along, and they are forced to work together to reach the fountain. The first witch wants health, the second seeks fortune, and the third wants to be cured of heartbreak. The knight has no hope that he will be given the opportunity to bathe in the fountain. As the group solves each riddle, they are able to move a bit forward. Along the way, the second witch mixes a potion that cures the disease of the first witch and the second witch gives her a fortune in return. The third witch comes to the realization that she never loved the man who broke her heart and lets the knight bathe in the fountain. The knight, who has fallen in love with the third witch, bathes in the fountain and then asks her to marry him. She accepts and all three of the witches—along with the knight—live full and happy lives without realizing the fountain had no powers at all.
An article by The Statesman, reports that fantasy books are twice as popular with young readers than novels set in a more realistic world. While I definitely believe this to be true and include myself in this statistic, I think it is equally important to relate fantasy to reality.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune is a great example of using fantasy to draw from reality. The knight from the story feels that he is less than the women who have been gifted magic, but finds that he is able to create his own fortune after all.
The underlying message of this story—magic isn’t necessary to solve problems— is a powerful one. We often tend to escape reality by reading, but it’s also crucial (especially for children) to know that their dreams can be achieved of their own merit.
I like this.
The Warlock’s Hairy Heart
This story is about a wizard who recurs to dark magic in order to keep his heart from feeling emotion. For years, the wizard thinks he is the envy of all, but when he overhears a negative conversation about him, he decides to take a bride. He chooses a beautiful woman and begins to court her. The woman is not fooled by his facade and tells him she will not marry him because he is incapable of love. The wizard then shows her his heart, which has been locked away, and has been so neglected that it is covered in hair. In order to prove the woman wrong, the wizard opens his chest and puts the heart inside his body. Still, the years have taken their toll, and when he realizes his hairy heart will take away his magic, he decides to switch the woman’s heart with his own. He kills the woman, but before he is able to replace the heart, he dies with a heart in each hand.
Out of all the stories, this is the darkest. But the message is that emotions make people human.
Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump
The fourth story is about a man who pretends to be a wizard in order to receive money and gold. The king, who wants to keep all magic for himself, solicits the help of a wizard who will train him in magic. The fake wizard, who has fooled the king, is then tested. When he realizes that one of the servants is a real witch, he threatens her into helping him. The king puts on a show to display his new skills, but does not know that the witch is behind the acts. When he is asked to revive a dead dog, the woman stops using her magic. She is soon revealed to be a witch and the con-man admits he lied. The witch is hunted, but threatens the king that if any witch or wizard is harmed in his kingdom, he will feel the strike of a blade. It is then proclaimed that no witch or wizard will ever be harmed, and a statue of her is built. The witch then leaves the kingdom, never to be seen again.
I liked the messages within the story—lies are always uncovered, magic is not to be trifled with, arrogance can lead to treachery.
As the blogger, WriteMeg, said “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.”
A fun historical lesson is always appreciated.
The Tale of the Three Brothers
The last story is one that may be familiar to all who have read or seen the Harry Potter movies. This is the story of the three brothers. The three brothers are walking through the forest when they encounter a river that has claimed the lives of many. Skilled in the magical arts, they build a bridge, but are stopped by Death. He asks them what they might like in return for being clever. The first brother receives the most powerful wand on the earth, the second a resurrection stone, and the third receives a cloak of invisibility. The first two brothers meet untimely deaths, but the third brother, who chose his gift wisely, is able to evade death for years. It is only after he reaches old age, that he sheds the cloak of invisibility and meets Death as a friend.
This is my favorite story in The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
One of the reasons that I feel the story is so cherished is that it adds to the world of Harry Potter. The deathly hallows are introduced, which in turn helps Harry, Ron, and Hermione defeat Lord Voldemort. This is a story that demonstrates powerful tropes: immortality cannot be reached, humility is prized, and wisdom is a virtue. Blogger, JCarsonWrites, says “It’s the sort of story you can imagine reading as a child and being totally intrigued by.”
This is a collection that feeds into the soul of Harry Potter enthusiasts.