Superstar author JK Rowling on Thursday launched The Tales Of Beedle The Bard, her first book since ending Harry Potter’s adventures, which is expected to trigger more long queues at bookshops. Many British shops opened early so children could buy the book before going to school. The tales went on sale in about 20 countries around the world, including the United States, China and Japan, with retailers predicting it would become the Christmas literary hit.
The Tales Of Beedle The Bard originally featured in the seventh and last Harry Potter book as a volume of fairytales left to Hermione Granger by Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. The boy wizard Potter used it to help him defeat arch-enemy Lord Voldemort. In her introduction to the book, Rowling explains it is a new ‘translation’ by Granger of works by the 15th century bard, whose life is ‘shrouded in mystery’ except that “he had an exceptionally luxuriant beard.”
The book also features a ‘commentary’ by Dumbledore, who reveals that he first heard the tales as a boy and says they are instructive for children. After finishing the Potter series last year, Rowling hand-wrote and illustrated seven copies of ‘Beedle’, giving six to people who had helped her make Potter a success and selling the seventh at auction for $2.8 million dollars to online retailer Amazon.
But now she has decided to expand the print-run to help the Children’s High Level Group, which she co-founded in 2005. Fans have already given a warm reaction to the 130-page book, whose five stories include The Wizard And The Hopping Pot, Babbity Rabbitty And Her Cackling Stump and The Warlock’s Hairy Heart.
“I loved it! It was about 30 times better than I thought it would be!,” wrote a fan calling herself stellathemuggle on fansite mugglenet.com.
“I loved the illustrations; Jo (Rowling) has a very nice style to her people she draws.” Another fan, Browsa, added: “Have only just got through the first couple of stories and already I have a favourite... better get back to it. JK Rowling rocks this world!”
The Harry Potter series has sold more than 400 million copies around the world and a spokesman for Waterstone’s, one of bookshop chains, said the latest Rowling was also likely to be a blockbuster.