Bunny & the Beast

Molly Coxe, Retold by, Pamela Silin-Palmer, Illustrator, Molly Coxe, Author
Molly Coxe, Retold by, Pamela Silin-Palmer, Illustrator, Molly Coxe, Author Random House Children's Books $15.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-80468-7
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Coxe (Big Egg) and Silin-Palmer (The Nightingale and the Wind) bring humor, if not air-tight internal logic, to this full-dress retelling of a familiar tale. Here, a rabbit merchant down on his luck strikes a deal with a rose-keeping Beast. The characters' brisk repartee keeps the story moving at a pace worthy of any scurrying rabbit. For example, after the Beast asks the merchant to bring him one of his daughters, the distraught man wails, ""If you must devour someone, devour me,"" to which the quick-witted Beast replies, ""If I were merely hungry, I would have eaten you already."" The language, the length of the text and the type size are most appropriate for older readers. Silin-Palmer's sprawling, elaborate paintings command attention with their elegant floral borders and bountiful details: lavish costumes, lush gardens dominated by rabbit-shaped topiary, frog courtiers. The artist's choice of a benign-looking bull terrier to play the role of Beast seems at odds with the text (""His eyes were angry, his teeth were sharp, and his claws were long,"" writes Coxe at the Beast's first appearance); how is this dog more ""beastly"" than a rabbit? Readers who don't want to look too closely at the story's workings, however, can content themselves with its pretty trappings. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)
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