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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!

Jondee here at the Beast Division,


J.K. Rowling wrote companion books to the Harry Potter series; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (written by Newt Scamander) and Quidditch Through the Ages (Kennilworthy Whisp is the author). They were written in 2001 for the Comic Relief UK charity that supports children with Rowling setting up the Harry’s Books Fund. She has a page at the front of the book discussing Comic Relief and it would be interesting to see if they are part of the upcoming film’s promotion. Both books are created in the fashion of textbooks to be used at Hogwarts. The book has Harry Potter’s name, but notes are scribbled by Ron Weasley (because his copy “fell apart”) and Hermione Granger. The notes are clever, (one has “Harry loves Moaning Myrtle”), mischievous like any school kid, and of course tie in characters from Harry Potter to unfamiliar characters and topics.


The author page has some information on main character, Newt Scamander, born Newton Artemis Fido Scamander in 1897. He is played by Eddie Redmayne in the movie. This would make him 29 by the time of the film. He joined the Ministry of Magic after graduating from Hogwarts. Two years later, he moved to the Beast Division. Then, his accomplishments are noted until he is given the Order of Merlin, Second Class in 1979. He retires to Dorset with his wife Porpentina. Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein is played by Katherine Waterson in the movie. She works at the Magical Congress of the United States of America. They have three pet Kneazles, magical cats with big ears and lion tails. The forward by Dumbledore notes that the book was published by Obscurus Books which has an address in Diagon Alley. He has also placed a Thief Curse on the book (no problem there, in fact, I think I bought two copies of the book). The introduction by Scamander notes that Fantastic Beasts was commissioned in 1918 (when he was 21) and that the book was published in 1927 (Scamander turned 30). This would probably mean the trilogy of films take place in a year. The Fantastic Beasts film starts in New York, a strange, new world similar to our first steps into the Wizarding World. It would be interesting to see other countries seen in the films since the introduction notes that he traveled five continents.


The American setting is fascinating since I would think there is more things magical in New Orleans and New Mexico than New York (possibly it’s the entry port for Wizards). It does seem that Newt Scamander will have to capture the runaway beasts, “Gotta catch `em all!” and that may be scattered across America. There doesn’t seem to be any cryptozoological creatures that were based in America in the book; Thunderbirds (from Native America folklore), Wendigos (also found in Canada), and even the Chupacabra. Scamander does note Bigfoot under the Yeti name which is strange not to use Sasquatch instead of the popular name. Speaking of the Thunderbird, also missing is the Roc which is found in Arabian tales, the Nandi Bear (African), and the Bunyip (Australian). Scamander does have the Kappa (Japanese), Erumpet (African, but a Harry Potter creation), and the Billywig (another Harry Potter creation in Australia). Maybe these beasties will find their way into the film and an expanded edition can be made of the book. The world building continues with the hiding of fantastic beasts from Muggles. The new term introduced in the film, No-maj for Muggles is interesting (also sounds like “nomad” or the refusal to serve someone named Madge) since it is clear that Muggles is used internationally. I think this points out Americans want things their own way, gotta drive on the right side of the road while the rest of the world is on the left. I hope some of the beasties show up at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in No-maj theaters on November 18th.