By Jeff Jensen
March 22, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Harry Potter: Mary Grandpre ©Scholastic Inc.

It’s thin, flimsy, and cheap — and yet, for fans of boy mage Harry Potter, this limited-edition companion book, benefitting Comic Relief U.K., is indispensable. Penned by Rowling under a silly pseudonym, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them purports to be a doodle-marred text from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With its richly detailed history lessons and witty debate parsing the differences between ”being” and ”beast,” plus a compendium of 85 magical creatures that’s chockablock with Rowling’s trademark wordplay (”Glumbumble” is a standout), ”Beasts” adds a vital new dimension to the Potter mythology. What could have been a castoff pulses with Rowling’s care for her creation.