New York Any property as popular as "Harry Potter" is bound to have tie-ins. There have been calendars, puzzles, games and those strange little collectible stones.
But none of them is as charming and amusing as the two little companion books author J.K. Rowling has created. These titles, short as they are, flesh out parts of Harry's world, and Potter fans will love them.
"Quidditch Through the Ages," by Rowling alter-ego Kennilworthy Whisp, and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," by Newt Scamander, were released Monday by Scholastic for $3.99 each. The net proceeds will go to charity.
The books are referenced in the Potter titles and are meant to look as though they came directly from that magical world. "Quidditch Through the Ages," a history of the wizarding world's most popular sport, is reproduced from a copy in Harry's school library.
"Fantastic Beasts," a duplicate of young wizard Harry's own textbook, categorizes all kinds of magical creatures. It's covered with notes and comments from Harry and his friends, just like a child's schoolbook would be an endearing touch from Rowling and a clever way to remind readers about his adventures.
The listing for werewolves includes a comment from Harry saying they "aren't all bad." He knows, of course, because his favorite teacher in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," the third book in the series, turned out to be one. There are numerous references to Hagrid, the groundskeeper at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who has created a host of problems with his love for dangerous animals.
"Quidditch Through the Ages" is a thorough telling of the game's history, its spread throughout the world and all the major teams. It has a section about the racing brooms used in the sport, but unfortunately omits the Firebolt Harry uses, perhaps because that top-of-the-line broom is such a recent addition.
Rowling has written both titles with the same humor and wit she's brought to her other books. They are amazingly imaginative; the only complaint is that they're not longer.
The book proceeds are going to a fund established by Comic Relief U.K. That organization, not affiliated with the United States charity of the same name, will use the money for children's causes around the world.