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Beauty and the Beast

As a children’s literature scholar, I’ve been very excited about the development of Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast that made me think about one of the main reasons I love fairy tales. For me, one of the most exciting things about fairy tales is that they exist in a kind of expansive,  collective existence that is for everyone. This means to me that fairy tales change and develop over time. They become something new in the hands of a new teller, or they transform when they are developed for a new medium. As a lover of stories, I find joy in each new invention. So to share my enjoyment of reinvention, here are some of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast. Along a more traditional route is the illustrated version by Marianna and Mercer Mayer. The Mayer’s embraces a fully romantic vision of the tale. The illustrations are lush and complex, capturing the emotional connection that Beauty makes with her Beast. Fans of young adult fantasy may be well acquainted with Robin McKinley’s 1978 retelling called Beauty. Still a classic today, McKinley’s Beauty is strong and makes her choices out of her own free will. The writing is rich and picturesque, making this one of the best loved novel versions of the tale. Another young adult version that takes a contemporary look of the story is Alex Flinn’s Beastly.  Set in New York, the Beast lives in a Brownstone and was cursed by a teenage witch. The Beast, who is spoiled rotten, must learn how to not be so much of a jerk, but it will take his own Beauty to do it. If you’re looking for other retellings that take the story out of the normal context, then also check out Donna Jo Napoli’s Beast, an elaborate and very harsh retelling of the story set in Persia.  It’s also interesting to note that both of these versions are told from the perspective of the Beast, a point of view twist that adds richness to both versions. So if you and the children in your life also like how fairy tales can change, why not take a moment to check out some of these amazing retellings.      

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

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Beauty and the Beast by Marianna and Mercer Mayer. Four Winds, 1978. (For readers of all ages)

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley.  Harper Teen, 1978. (For mature teen and adult readers)

Beastly by Alex Flinn.  HarperTeen, 2007. (For mature teen and adult readers)

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli. Simon and Schuster, 1999.  (For mature teen and adult readers)

DISCLAIMER: 

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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