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In Honour of September 1st: Last-Minute Hogwarts Homework [Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling]

September 1, 2017

Every year, I reread a Harry Potter book and post about it on this date. And every year, I promise myself that next year, I won’t leave it so late, I’ll read the book earlier and write the post earlier, so all I need to do on September 1st is publish it.

And every year, I forget about it again, and September 1st sneaks up on me and it’s a mad scramble to get everything finished.

This year has been the worst so far – I actually only remembered about it late last night and threw Fantastic Beasts into my bag to read on the train to work and during lunch and on the train home. Thankfully it’s a short book, so that was enough time.

And I’m sure there were quite a few Hogwarts students today finishing their holiday homework on the Hogwarts Express.

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I wasn’t going to buy the new edition, I swear. I don’t need duplicate books. Not even if there are a couple of new beasts in the new one.

… but then I was in a bookshop, and I had just passed my final exam, and I deserved a reward, and there were no other even slightly tempting books in the shop, and it was pretty.

Honestly, though, I think the original edition, with Harry’s and Ron’s scribbled notes, was more fun to read. Although the new one does have very pretty illustrations, and I might take out my coloured pencils at some point and hope I actually manage to make them look better, not worse, by colouring them.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what I think about the book.

There’s a part of me that wonders when this book was written, within the Wizarding World – it must be decades old by the time Harry is in school, and I shudder at the thought of using textbooks that are decades old.

And another part of me thinks about the many posts I’ve seen on tumblr, complaining about Rowling’s portrayal of the American Wizarding world, but I’m not even going to think closely about that, because I’m not going to let one of my favourite fictional worlds become tinged with other people’s bitterness.

And a part of me wishes the descriptions of the beasts were longer and more detailed, and a tiny part of me wishes the creatures weren’t so utterly crazy and improbable (I have been spoiled by authors trying to write realisitc dragons, I’m afraid, which makes two-legged fish and evil blankets a little hard to believe.)

But then a much larger part of me is still entertained by rhinos that make things explode and rampaging hedgehogs, and bogie-eating fluffballs (and yes, I know they are called Erumpents and Knarls and Puffskeins) and I’m glad they are a part of my life and my bookshelves.

(Also, yes, I’ve seen the movie, but it’s been many months, and  movies stick in my mind even less well than books do these days, so no comments about that. Maybe once I run out of books to reread, I’ll rewatch the movies and comment on those. But that’ll still take until 2021, and that’s if I even manage to keep up these yearly posts, with the new challenges waiting for me in the future.)

 

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