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Beauty and the Beast Hardcover – July 26, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-A sumptuous retelling of this well-known story. An author and illustrator's note explains that the Crafts conducted extensive research before finalizing their own text for this classic tale, examining not only Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's version, which was published in France in 1756, but numerous other retellings as well. What has emerged is an adaptation that effectively captures the mystery and magic of this tale in lyrical language. Some dark elements and the length make this book more appropriate for older elementary students. The illustrations are nothing short of gorgeous. Rendered with miniature sable brushes in oil and watercolor on gesso panels, they are rich in detail and depth of color. There is a certain misty luminosity that carries readers into this forest of illusion. VERDICT Even libraries that own Marianna Mayer's beautiful Beauty and the Beast (Four Winds, 1978) should still consider this enchanting addition.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Effectively captures the mystery and magic of this tale in lyrical language. The illustrations are nothing short of gorgeous. There is a certain misty luminosity that carries readers into this forest of illusion. (School Library Journal)
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Top Customer Reviews
According to the artist/author note at the start of the book, this retelling is adapted from Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's story, one of the earliest takes on the Beauty and the Beast tale, having been first published in France, 1756. Kinuko Craft was inspired by her work and so painted her illustrations *before* Mahlon Craft retold the story in his own words.
So what does this book bring to the fairy tale, which has been told so many times before (or as Disney describes it: is a tale as old as time)?
If you're familiar with the story there's little in the way of variation here: as always a merchant and his three daughters are rendered poor after his trading ships are lost at sea. Having gotten lost in a snowstorm, the merchant takes shelter in an enchanted castle but makes the mistake of taking a rose from the garden to give to his youngest daughter Beauty. The owner of the castle reveals himself as a terrible Beast, who demands that either the merchant or his daughter still stay captive in his home as punishment.
Being a kind and loving daughter, Beauty volunteers to give up her freedom and stay with the Beast – only to find that his home caters to her every need, and that the Beast is not so terrible as she initially supposed...
The only unique elements in this retelling are that Beauty is visited by a fairy during her stay at the castle, and that her stepsisters are changed into two stone statues as punishment for their cruelty.
It is Kinuko Craft's illustrations that make this version of "Beauty and the Beast" so memorable. If you're familiar with her work, you'll recognize her Pre-Raphaelite style as well as her exquisite level of detail: gauzy veils, mountain vistas, flower petals, the folds and rumples of silky gowns. Minor characters appear throughout the pages: an owl, a parakeet, a German Shepherd, not to mention numerous spirits hiding in snow drifts and curtains, silently watching the main characters without impinging on the story itself.
There's also a hint of Asian influences, with Eastern dragons and sculptures depicted alongside Western style fairies. Lastly, I'm always interested to see how each new artist will render the Beast: here he first appears as an ominous shadow on a pillar, and soon revealed as a hyena-like creature with long silver talons.
I have at least three picture books of "Beauty and the Beast," all of them bringing something new and interesting to the traditional tale. I'm pretty happy to add Kinuko Craft's contribution to that collection.