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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (companion book)

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a book written, hand-lettered and illustrated by J. K. Rowling for the Comic Relief Charity in 2001.

Written under the pseudonym Newt Scamander, it is meant to be a copy of the in-universe book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The premise states that the book has been released in the Muggle world to help raise money for needy causes.

Throughout the editions prior to 2017 are hand-written comments by Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter, as well as a blurp and foreword by Albus Dumbledore.

There are many editions of the book that can be brought. To mark the release of the 2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film, the book cover was redesigned by Pottermore, Bloomsbury and Scholastic. Rowling has also added new information to the book. They were released 14 March 2017.

There will be an audio book edition narrated by Eddie Redmayne, who portrays the author Newt Scamander in the film adaptations. He will read the book in character. It was released on the same day as the redesigned covers.[1]

It can also be bought in a bulk set with Quidditch Through The Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Contents

2001

2017

Foreshadowing

When the book was published in 2001, it contained creatures that had yet to appear in the later books. For example:

The book has a listing for an Erumpent. An Erumpent horn is described in the book as being dangerous. It was later featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where its danger is demonstrated as did the Bowtruckle.

The book also marked the first mention of the Thestral and the Bowtruckle. They were later featured in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Comments in the 2001 edition

Even though the book predates the events of the Harry Potter books, the real world copy of the book for Comic Relief is a version of the book Harry Potter purchased in August 1991. As such, it contains many tongue-in-cheek comments and doodles written by Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. A list of them follows:

  • The question 'What is a Beast?' (serving as the title of the section) is answered as 'a big hairy thing with too many legs', probably by Ron, referring specifically to a spider, or an acromantula or a quintaped.
  • Under 'A brief history of Muggle awareness of fantastic beasts', the word 'brief' is crossed out, and is replaced by 'you liar'.
  • In the section about Illegal Experimentive Breeding it says, 'But no one's told Hagrid' referring to the illegal hybrid of Blast-Ended Skrewts, which are supposedly a mix between fire crabs and manticores (though Rita Skeeter's credibility comes into question when thinking about this).
  • In the Ministry Classifications, the most dangerous creatures are labelled as XXXXX, to which has been added "or anything Hagrid likes". This a reference to Hagrid's notorious enthusiastic appreciation of monsters - the more dangerous, the better, or so it appears - and oblivious underappreciation of just how dangerous they can be to someone lacking the strength and resilience of a half-giant.
  • On Pg. 2 under the Acromantula section, the book states "Rumours that a colony of Acromantula has been established in Scotland are unconfirmed." In fact, Harry and Ron encounter a colony in the Forbidden Forest in the second book. Hagrid was aware of this Acromantula colony before this, and it is quite likely that other members of the staff knew of its existence. In Harry's version of the book, the word "unconfirmed" is crossed out and the following comment of "confirmed by Harry Potter and Ron Weasley" is added.
  • Also under the Acromantula section, an extra 9 X's are added to the creature's classification, probably by Ron, since it is well known that he is afraid of spiders, and the Acromantula is a gigantic, man-eating spider.
  • On Pg. 4 under the basilisk section, the book states "there have been no recorded sightings of Basilisks in Britain for at least four hundred years". This is invalid, as there is a recorded sighting in the second Harry Potter book. As such, a comment of "that's what you think" has been appended to the bottom of the entry.
  • In the Dragons section, the name "Norwegian Ridgeback" is crossed out and replaced with "Baby Norbert", referring to Hagrid's infant dragon which he hatched himself and showed to the trio. Nearby, under the entry for "Hungarian Horntail", the article begins "Supposedly the most dangerous of all dragons" to which is added in a scribble, "you're not kidding".
  • The Hippogriff section says that they "may be domesticated, though this should only be attempted by experts". This is underlined and connected to a note saying, "Has Hagrid read this book?" referring to Hagrid's domestication of a Hippogriff herd despite being anything but an expert.
  • In the Billywig section, it is noted that their dried stings are believed to be a component in the popular wizarding sweet "Fizzing Whizbees". In Harry's copy of the book, the words "That's the last time I eat them, then" is seen scrawled under the entry in response.
  • The Kappa section claims that this creature is Japanese in origin, to which is added the note "Snape hasn't read this either". This presumably refers to the third book, in which Professor Snape states, "the Kappa is more commonly found in Mongolia".
  • In the Leprechaun section, where it mentions how they produce a realistic goldlike substance that vanishes after a few hours, to their amusement, is a note written by Ron, reading, "but not mine. R. W." This is in reference to the fourth book, where Ron gives Harry leprechaun gold at the Quidditch World Cup in order to pay him back for the Omniculars and later finds out during a Care of Magical Creatures class that leprechaun gold eventually vanishes.
  • The Pixies section has them classified as an XXX level creature. The addition here takes the form of a note saying "or XXXXXXX if you're Lockhart", referring to the class in the second book when Lockhart sets the pixies loose in the classroom and the students had to round them up because Lockhart couldn't get rid of them using his presumably made up spell "Pepiski Pesternomi".
  • The Puffskein entry has a note, presumably by Ron, saying, "I had one of those once" to which Harry responds, "What happened to it?" and a reply underneath says, "Fred used it for Bludger practice". This conversation also takes place between Harry and Ron in the Philosopher's Stone video game and in the Chamber of Secrets PS1 game, Ginny is looking over a Puffskein to make sure Fred doesn't use it as a Bludger again.
  • The mermaid entry describes a certain type of Merpeople as being "less beautiful..." Next to that line is a note saying "ugly". This refers to Harry's encounters with mermaids in the second Triwizard Task in the fourth book.
  • In the troll entry, a picture of a troll is drawn, next to it written, "My name is Gregory Goyle and I smell!"
  • In the werewolf entry, next to the heading "Werewolves" a note has been added: "aren't all bad". This is a reference to Professor Lupin, a werewolf and Harry's favourite teacher.
  • The words "CHUDLEY CANNONS" are written at the bottom of the last page, presumably by Ron.
  • On the Contents page "CHUDLEY CANNONS" is written, and a note below it says: "Write a decent team in my book for a change, Weasley". This is probably written after the Chudley Cannons note on the last page.

Editions

2017 Edition

On 28 September 2016, Pottermore released the redesigned cover for the eBook edition of the book designed by Olly Moss. On 5 January 2017, Pottermore announced that Bloomsbury and Scholastic have also redesigned the hardcover edition of the book. The Scholastic edition was designed by Headcase Design. The Bloomsbury edition was designed by Jonny Duddle and features a Puffskein on the back cover, a Deluxe Illustrated Edition and an Illustrated Edition illsutrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill will also be released by Bloomsbury later in 2017.

The eBook, audiobook (narrated by Eddie Redmayne and featuring some sound effects) and Hardcover editions were published on 14 March 2017. Part of the proceeds going to Comic Relief again as well as Lumos, Rowling's charity.[2]

The 2017 Edition features information about 6 new beasts (the Thunderbird, Wampus cat, Horned Serpent, Hodag, Hidebehind and Snallygaster), some corrections, a new foreword "by Newt Scamander" and interior illustrations by Tomislav Tomic replacing the previous foreword "by Albus Dumbledore" and illustrations by Rowling.

Gallery

Behind the scenes

  • This book is available in the Muggle world (which would appear to be a breach to the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy even if Dumbledore writes that everything is "fictional"), for the purpose of raising money for charity.
  • While we can read in Albus Dumbledore's foreword that the book is use to find the best way to rid the lawn of Horklumps or cure pet Puffskeins of drinking out of the toilet,[3] the companion book actually does not reveal how to fix these problems.
  • The American editions of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages were not Americanized. The publisher Arthur A. Levine stated ‘… those are exactly the same – we didn’t have time or anything… Did I change the spellings? I might have… I might not have… Because, of course, the conceit is that it’s a British school book anyway. It’s not narrated…’ A note about Comic Relief by Rowling is unique to the American edition and the text of the ‘Foreword’ has also been changed slightly to identify the charity as ‘Comic Relief U.K.’[4]
  • In 2013, J. K. Rowling announced that she had begun to write a screenplay for a feature film to be titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which would focus on Newton Scamander and would take place seventy years before the events in the Harry Potter novels.[5] The said film was released on Friday, 18 November 2016.
  • The prefacing About the Author indicated the book was in its "fifty-second edition" in the editions prior to 2017.
  • Some editions were featuring the price in Wizarding currency in the back covers.

See also

Notes and references

  1. Eddie Redmayne has recorded the new Fantastic Beasts audio book as Newt Scamander
  2. First look: Olly Moss redesigns Fantastic Beasts cover for Pottermore
  3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, (Foreword by Albus Dumbledore) - "No wizarding household is complete without a copy of Fantastic Beasts, well thumbed by the generations who have riffled its pages in search of the best way to rid the lawn of Horklumps, […] or cure their pet Puffskein of drinking out of the toilet."
  4. J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography 1997-2013
  5. "JK Rowling to write new Harry Potter-inspired film series based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" at The Independent
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