Mckinley, Robin. Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Eos, 1978. 325p. Grades 7-12. Nonfiction/Fairytale.
Beauty is the youngest of three daughters to a wealthy merchant, when their fortune is lost. Beauty and her family travel to the country to live humbly. Her father displeases the Beast and Beauty goes to live with him in his palace. There she comes to care for the Beast and eventually agrees to marry him, which is when the spell is broken.
Review: While I really enjoyed Beauty, it was quite slow at times. The very beginning when Beauty and her family are still living in the town and are wealthy is boring. There is not much going on. It feels as though you are waiting for the story to begin for 30 pages. Getting to the small village was interesting but the novel slowed down again. Beauty doesn’t actually get to the enchanted castle until page 136.
The only version of Beauty and the Beast that I know is the Disney movie version, which came out in 1991. This book and the movie are very similar. The book is better, not surprisingly. There are more nuances to the book than the Disney movie. For instance, Beauty for the majority of the book, either is ugly (at the beginning) or believes she is. This body dismorphia is something many teenage girls deal with on a daily basis. Constantly, comparing yourself to other people and being found lacking is not an unusual feeling. I think this part of the book makes it easy to relate to.
Another interesting part of the novel is the servants are invisible. There is a little gust of wind so that Beauty can tell that someone is there helping her, but that’s it. The interpretation of the magic that surrounds the castle is the most fascinating. The magic is partially controlled by the Beast. The weather is nice all year round. The Beast can send dreams to people. It is this interpretation that makes the book more dynamic. Even though this book was published in 1978, I would still recommend it to teens today. I think that young people are still interested in fairy tales, as demonstrated by all the updated versions of fairytales. Cinder, Towering and the TV show Once Upon a Time are all examples of modern versions of fairytales.