Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beauty

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley

What if Beauty did not consider her looks to be her best asset? That is part of the premise of this retelling of Beauty & the Beast. Beauty is fond of learning and spends hours in her father's library when his fortune changes and she and her sisters are forced to move the the country. The story follows the traditional course of events from there with her father going to town on hearing a ship had some in, getting lost on the way home devastated that he still has nothing, taking a rose from the Beast's castle, and Beauty having to go to the Beast's castle to spare her father. What develops in the magical castle does deviate from the original story and has some great description and magic to it.

I must have read this book over fifty times growing up. I loved it so much. I really liked that Beauty did not see herself as a beauty at all and felt silly about her name. I also liked the fact the Beauty was a reader and sought knowledge passionately. It was great to read as an eleven year old that girls can like books other than YA fiction, and to have a heroine really wanted to learn. I must admit to also liking that her sisters in this book are very nice and wonderful people. It was more fun to read about a family that gets along than one that hates each other. Beauty's companion on her trip to the Beast's castle is her horse, and I must admit to liking that character as well. He is not magic and does not gain any powers upon being in the Beast's castle but watching him learn to trust the Beast was a great addition to the story. This book is filled with some wonderful detail about the castle and Beauty's surroundings including her wardrobe. These do not get too long but are just the right length to have a good idea of what things looked like and then let your imagination see the rest. I highly recommend this book for 8-12 year-olds.

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