Raise your hand if you’re a Harry Potter fan. *Raises a stack of books and quills with a mischievous grin*
Oh yeah, I totally am. I grew up reading the books and recently tracked down three volumes previously missing from my collection, Quidditch through the Ages, Tales of Beedle and the Bard, and (of course) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
After seeing the new Warner Bros. trailer:
I got super excited and and dug out my copy of it. It had been a few years since I last visited Fantastic Beasts, and I was curious:
Where’d the story for the movie come from?
Because I remembered the book being a pretty straight-forward (by wizarding standards anyway) textbook.
So I revisited it:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Written by JK Rowling (Or Newt Scamander if you wish)
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books and Obscrus Books
My Specific Edition: 1st Hardcover boxset edition 2001
1 Sentence Plot Synopsis:
Yep, it is indeed a pretty straight-forward textbook with a forward from Albus Dumbledore, doodles in the margins from Harry, Ron and Hermione, and some teensy snippets of stories nestled in the footnotes.
Book Long Description:
“Straight from the library at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a book of magical creatures that no Harry Potter fan should be without!
A copy of FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief, which means that the dollars and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.
— Albus Dumbledore” [amazon.com]
It’s a really quick read, and one that has some fun little mini-bios about the creatures of the wizarding world, but there really ins’t much of a story to it.
I will say though, this one footnote story made me laugh:
“Uric the Oddball attempted at one time to prove that the Fwooper song was actually beneficial to the health [whereas it is actually known to drive people insane] and listened to it for three months on end without break.
Unfortunately the Wizards’ Council to which he reported his findings were unconvinced, as he had arrived at the meeting wearing nothing but a toupee that on closer inspection proved to be a dead badger. [Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]
So the movie…?
According to Pottermore, Fantastic Beasts almost ended up as a faux documentary:
There are 75 species of magical creatures in the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but no plot. The filmmakers considered making a faux documentary but when J.K. Rowling heard, she offered up another idea and started writing. This is the first time she has ever written a screenplay, and she has mapped out the next two already.
Although we are left wondering how a David Attenborough-narrated ‘Mating cycle of the Hippogriff’ segment might have panned out. [pottermore.com]
Whew! Thanks J.K. Rowling! I think a new story of yours shared in the cinematic universe is a brilliant way to produce this book.
I’m really excited to see more of the Wizarding World coming out so I’ll certainly be popping in with my two cents every now-and-again.
How about you? Excited for more Harry Potter? Nervous about how this story will play out without a novelization coming first?