By MARGIE THOMSON

Not approved by J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros, the cover warns, but why should the mind-blowing profits of this literary/commercial phenomenon not be spread around a little?

This book is a "treasury of myths, legends and fascinating facts" giving provenance to Rowling's imaginings.

"One of the pleasures of reading Rowling is discovering the playful references to history, legend and literature that she hides in her books," Colbert says in his introduction.

Rowling's Sphinx, for instance, asks a riddle just as did the Sphinx of ancient Greek mythology. "Durmstrang", the name of the wizard school that admits only full-blooded wizards and has questionable links to Lord Voldemort, comes from the German artistic style called Sturm und Drang, which was a favourite of Nazi Germany. And so on.

It's interesting, although light, and should keep smart-alecky kids and the truly curious happy and occupied for some time.

Wakefield Press

$29.95