The Tales of Beedle the Bard was something I was interested in since I had read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when this book of five fairy tales was bequeathed to Hermione Granger after Dumbledore's death. For those that read Deathly Hallows, you'll remember that Hermione's translation of the fairy tales was important to Harry's search and destruction of Voldemort.
J.K. Rowling is nothing if not thorough, so it's no surprise that the book that was handed down to Hermione has made its way to our own Muggle world. Not only that, but Rowling made sure to note that this book is Hermione's translation of the stories from the ancient runes, and the set is complete with Dumbledore's own notes after each tale. This is so much more than a set of fairy tales. This is an extension of Harry Potter's world, and really a small extension of the series.
I don't want to give anything away about the fairy tales, but I will give you their titles: 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. Personally, I liked them. They were very original but still stuck with the overall themes many fairy tales have: good triumphs over evil, humility is a virtue, etc.
If you ever wondered what exactly Hermione was translating, or if you love fairy tales and are looking for some new ones, or if you just want to know what a book of wizard's fairy tales would be like, you should read this book. Those who like deconstructing literature (hey English majors and librarians - over here!) will like Dumbledore's reviews and comments of each work, but the nice thing is that those who think that kind of thing is boring can skip right over it and not miss the essence of the book, which of course is the tales. It's like Rowling knew just how to format this book: give the die-hard fans more to read and a closer look into the wizarding world and a few of their beloved characters, but also give those less interested in specifics something light and short to read through.
4 out of 5 stars. This book works on different levels, and I really like that. It's not going to take you days to read this (like the series), but it still packs a lot of information into a neat little bundle.