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

Yes, that’s right, I read it. And I read all seven of the other books too. Deal.

The Tales of Beedle the BardActually, not being a real HP fan (I definitely liked the books, but not like that), I wasn’t going to read this. But Christmas brings surprises, and a tiny book of fables has its way of surfacing to the top of the reading pile. And they were very, very cute.

I like fairy tales, and I like commentary on fairy tales, and I like metafiction. So this was actually sort of a triple play for me: a fictional wizarding school’s headmaster’s notes on a “new translation” of the classic wizarding children’s stories. The tales themselves are well-executed little treats, and Dumbledore’s notes avoid being overly simplistic in interpretation by incorporating wizarding history and folklore.

I don’t think Rowling is any kind of genius, but it is lovely to have something so feel-good and yet not remotely saccharine. And she’s not only created a world that people love to visit, she’s just as good at giving a voice to Dumbledore as she is to Harry. Frankly, Dumbledore’s is more pleasant. And in such a tiny dose it’s nice to reinhabit that world.