Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Quidditch Through the Ages
They’re thin, flimsy, and cheap — and yet, for fans of boy mage Harry Potter, these limited-edition companion books, benefitting Comic Relief U.K., are indispensable. Penned by Rowling under silly pseudonyms, Beasts and Quidditch (the high-flying sport popular in Potter’s enchanted world) purport to be doodle-marred texts from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Beasts is the keeper. 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. Quidditch suffers from a malady common to most sports manuals: it’s kinda boring. But it comes alive with its guide to the world’s great teams (long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans will find the Chudley Cannons painfully familiar) and its explanation for why Quidditch hasn’t caught on in the U.S. — apparently, we prefer the football-like Quodpot. Overall, what could have been castoffs pulse with Rowling’s care for her creation.