Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Harry Potter and the Amusing Book

As you may well have noticed, my library encompasses a vast sea of books culled from varied genres.  From gruesome nonfiction histories to illustrated children's bedtime stories.  And now, we have a combo for you.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

The stories in themselves (The Warlock's Hairy Heart, The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, etc.) are amusing and contain excellent lessons for the little tykes as regards general kindness to those around you, how unselfishness is a virtue (Ayn Rand is spinning in her grave), and that you should avoid wizards who are in a bad mood.  A couple of them are gory - The Warlock's Hairy Heart, in particular - but overall, I'd say they're all appropriate for children about 10 and up.  Some of the less graphic stories (Babbity Rabbity and The Fountain of Fair Fortune) are suitable for all ages.  They're a pretty swift read, too: I read them all in one sitting before bed, and, no, it wasn't a 6 hour marathon sitting.  Two or three before bed would be adequate for a pre-bedtime read-aloud session, if that's an issue for the parental types.

As usual, Rowling's descriptive powers are in full force, but the stories still retain the character found in most fairy tales, like those of the brothers Grimm.  They have a quality of being handed down, and in the process, seem to have lost superfluous descriptors that clutter newer children's stories.

My favorite part of the volume, though, was the scholarly commentary following each story.  Purportedly the work of Albus Dumbledore, the previously unpublished commentaries could help parents provide talking points about the stories, although I doubt most 10 year-olds would find the notes themselves interesting.

Dumbledore addresses the Muggle/Wizard history and trends at the time the story was first recorded, moral and ethical views espoused by the story and their various interpretations, and alternate versions of the story.  All, of course, in Dumbledore's good-naturedly scathing way (he makes mince-meat of Muggle-haters).

Added bonus: book proceeds benefit the Children's High Level Group, a European charitable institution that helps place children from large orphanages into smaller group homes.

1 comment:

  1. lol at the title of your architect-y