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

If you are about to ask, “Jenny, did you get this book for only two pounds at the Charing Cross Road Borders, along with a number of other kids’ books that were, at 3 for 2, absolutely irresistible?”, then the answer is yes.  Yes, I did.  And I was really pleased about it, I can tell you.  And I also couldn’t resist buying a great big heavy book all about writing Doctor Who, because I am interested in how people write TV shows.  I mean how the process works.  All very interesting.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is another of those wee books J.K. Rowling writes for charities, bless her, and it’s quite charming.  Not because of the stories themselves – nothing wrong with them, it’s just tricky to write a wonderful fairy tale, and even trickier when you’re not operating within traditional fairy tale conventions, and even trickier yet still when you are writing fairy tales purportedly for an audience comprised of witches and wizards.  The stories are enjoyable enough, but what’s really fun is Dumbledore’s commentary on them.  Dumbledore makes me smile.  I miss Dumbledore.  Why are there not more Harry Potter books than there are?  I miss them all actually.  And waiting for new ones to come out.  That was fun.  Why can’t we have that bit over again?

Anyway, Dumbledore’s commentary – he spends some time telling amusing stories about the stories (ah, metafiction, I love you when you do not disappoint and crush me), and even talks about a woman who supposedly rewrote these stories in dreadful twee ways.  She reminded me of Enid Blyton.

I’ve never read Enid Blyton.  Every time I pick up one of her books and glance at it, it seems so sweety-sweet that I feel sick to my stomach and have to put it down straightaway.  Am I being unfair to Ms. Blyton?  Or are her books genuinely that sweety-sweet?  Or, third option, do her books have merit as long as you read them for the first time when you are quite young?  Some books are like this and I sometimes don’t hold it against them.  I am hoping it is the second or third thing, because if I’m being unfair, I don’t know how I’m going to force myself to read her books.

  • I miss Dumbledore too. And I’ve never read Blyton either. She always gave me that impression too.

    What were the other irresistible kid’s books?

  • jennysbooks

    I’m glad to hear you say that – I see her books everywhere now I’m in London.

    Well, I got Kenneth Grahame’s charming The Reluctant Dragon, a copy of The Ordinary Princess with a nicer cover than mine has, the most beautifully illustrated book of fairy tales I’ve ever seen (Jane Ray is the artist and I now love her), and a few gifts I can’t say (alas!) because my sister reads this.

  • anna

    Oh! Can I have your old one? Or is it already promised (ordinary princess)

    • jennysbooks

      Hm. We’ll see. Depends how nice you are to me between now and when I see you next.

      • anna

        Have I told you how wonderfully kind and pretty and smart you are lately?

  • The only Enid Blyton I remember liking as a kid were some of her Mallory Towers series about a boarding school for girls. My mom found three of the series of five for me at a tag sale once. Can’t stand the Noddy tv show. Five Go Down to the Sea wasn’t so bad in a Boxcar Children kind of way.

    I also miss the waiting part for the Harry Potter books. My two eldest kids were old enough to go to the last three midnight release parties and those will always be great memories for us. Now we wait on the movies, but it isn’t the same…

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