Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

I enjoyed this book for what it was, a book of fairy tales. Like "muggle" fairytales they all have a moral to them. I would have no hesitation reading these stories to my grandkids, with the exception perhaps of The Warlock's Hairy Heart, which reads more like a Grimm's fairytale and not necessarily for young children, but older children will like it. From my point of view, I enjoyed the comments taken from the "notes" of Dumbledore on the tales themselves, and how they tie in with witchcraft as in the Harry Potter books. All in all it was an enjoyable read, one I could read over a period of time, one tale after another, and I especially appreciate that it is also a worthy fundraiser. Thanks to J.K. Rowling for not dropping us totally!

The Measure of a Man: a spiritual autobiography by Sidney Poitier

This is not the first autobiography by Sidney Poitier, but it is a powerful one. It is a story of wholeness, of working to achieve the best within himself. The story begins on a small piece of isolated land, Cat Island, in the Bahamas, untouched by the outside world without even the most rudimentary of what most would call necessities, so untouched the locals don’t even know there are necessities, and they may be right. The true essential is family and that they do have.

In this autobiography, Sidney Poitier looks within, the good and the bad, what drives a man, how to maintain dignity when all around attempts are made to remove the dignity. His first view that there was another kind of life, even that there was a world, was at the tender age of ten and a half, when he moved to Nassau, capitol of the Bahamas. This was the first time he lived outside the “Natural” world. A boy used to evaluating risk, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, he had never encountered the new types of risk. The thing is, he had prepared himself for life by believing that he was who he was, that not only could he be as good as anyone else but with hard work he could be better.

This is the basis of the book. It covers many years of looking for answers, taking risks to better himself, searching for meaning, the how, the why, the when, the where. Successful as his career became, he still stretched from within to better himself. He wanted to avoid slipping into thinking things were pretty good as they were. He wanted to maintain his dignity, honour his father, be all he could be, and be the best father he could. I’m summarizing rather than delving too far into the book because the summation is constant for Poitier. I learned a great deal personally from this book and found it moved along very well, although I did notice a bit of a stall or slow spot toward the end which did pick up again, so it didn’t last very long. This is not about black and white except where necessary, this is about being human and where humanity belongs in Nature’s world. I believe it is an excellent book and recommend it for the many lessons that can be learned.