By Katherine Haddon in London
December 04, 2008 10:27pm
SUPERSTAR author JK Rowling has launched The Tales Of Beedle The Bard, her first book since ending Harry Potter's adventures.
The new release is expected to trigger more long queues at bookshops.Many British shops opened opened early so children could buy the book before going to school.
The tales went on sale in about 20 countries around the world with some retailers predicting it would become the Christmas literary hit. Rowling will host a tea party and reading for about 200 children in Edinburgh to mark the first day of sales for the book, proceeds from which will go to her charity helping vulnerable children in eastern Europe.
The Tales Of Beedle The Bard originally featured in the seventh and last Harry Potter book as a volume of fairytales left to Hermione Granger by Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
The boy wizard Potter used it to help him defeat arch-enemy Lord Voldemort.
After finishing the Potter series last year, Rowling hand-wrote and illustrated just seven copies of Beedle, giving six to people who had helped her make Potter a success and selling the seventh at auction for £1.95 million ($4.44 million) to online retailer Amazon.
But now she has decided to expand the print-run to help the Children's High Level Group, which she co-founded in 2005.
Fans have already given a warm reaction to the 130-page book, whose five stories include The Wizard And The Hopping Pot, Babbity Rabbitty And Her Cackling Stump and The Warlock's Hairy Heart.
"I loved it! It was about 30 times better than I thought it would be!," wrote a fan calling herself stellathemuggle on fansite mugglenet.com.
"I loved the illustrations; Jo (Rowling) has a very nice style to her people she draws."
Another fan, Browsa, added: "Have only just got through the first couple of stories and already I have a favourite... better get back to it. JK Rowling rocks this world!"
The Harry Potter series has sold more than 400 million copies around the world and a spokesman for Waterstone's, one of Britain's biggest bookshop chains, said the latest Rowling was also likely to be a blockbuster.
"Many of our shops opened extra early so that kids could get it before going to school," said spokesman John Howells, adding that some were selling books from as early as 6am.
"It's almost definitely going to be the biggest selling book this Christmas. It has every chance of being the biggest selling book of the year."
The book, which has a print run of 7.5 million copies, is being launched in 10 different languages in more than 20 countries including Britain, the United States, France, Germany, China and Japan.