J.K. Rowling,
Fantastic Beasts and
Where to Find Them
Quidditch Through the Ages
(Scholastic, 2001)

Harry Potter fans can own two of his textbooks from Hogwarts! J.K. Rowling, the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, and Scholastic Books have made two well-worn must-have texts available to Muggles such as you and I. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander and Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp provide a glimpse into the magic world of Harry and his friends. Proceeds from the sale of these slim volumes, a bargain at $3.99 each (14 Sickles, 3 Knuts) in paperback, benefit Comic Relief U.K. and "support children's causes around the world."

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a printed from Harry's own copy, complete with claw marks on the cover and notes written by Harry, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in the margins. It includes the detailed differentiation of the term "beast," which has changed multiple times over the years, and the brief history of Muggle awareness of these magical creatures and techniques utilized to keep them hidden. (Apparently there's one in Loch Ness that consistently eludes disillusionment charms and craves publicity.) The final two-thirds of the book includes a description and danger classification for all beasts from Acromantula to Yeti. Many of the creatures have been featured in the Harry Potter series.

The two best aspects of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are the footnotes referencing other works and providing additional notes and the inclusion of a Crup, which greatly resembles a Jack Russell Terrier and is indubitably living in my house.

Quidditch expert Whisp's Quidditch Through the Ages is even more fun, as it explains this magical sport from its early days in Queerditch Marsh when the witch Gertie Keddle journaled about "the broomstick idiots playing again" to present day fouls and team standings. Using articles from The Daily Prophet and letters about the sport, Whisp shows the development to its modern configuration involving one leather Quaffle, two iron Bludgers and the elusive Golden Snitch, a winged ball replacing the woefully endangered Golden Snidget. Thoroughly entertaining to young fans of the series, the text also holds the attention of more mature readers with its delightful details. Check out the reviewer notes and Hogwarts School Library defacing notice.

At about 50 pages each, the books are a quick and easy read -- or a handy reference guide. Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Dumbledore penned a forward to each book explaining why it will enhance understanding between the wizarding community and Muggles. (The school librarian seems to have a differing opinion.)

J.K. Rowling obviously had fun ghostwriting this addendum to her series. And it benefits a good cause. So buy them if you're a fan or if you know a fan or if you just want to avoid a Thief's Curse for reading them too long without handing over dollars or Sickles.

[ by Julie Bowerman ]

Buy them from Amazon.com.