Alma and the Beast

Esmé Shapiro. Tundra, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6396-3
Alma has a thick coat of silvery fur, and her world, including her house and the trees around it, is covered in luxurious hair. Shapiro paints the tresses in shades of chestnut, rust, and slate, following Alma’s daily routine: “She braided the trees... combed the grass... and petted the roof, as one does when the days grow chilly and pink.” One day, a little beast—a human girl—strays into Alma’s garden. Its earnest eyes are just as deep as Alma’s, but it wears a dress and sports no locks except for the hair on its head. When Alma is able to master her own fear, the two retrace the beast’s steps home, and a splendid vertical spread shows the place where their two worlds meet. With all its soft fur, Alma’s world seems warm and comfortable, while the human world, by contrast, feels a bit cold and stark (“Marvelous, indeed! Very bald!” Alma exclaims). It’s no surprise that the furry protagonist is able to offer the girl—Mala, it turns out—friendship across realms. What’s fresh is Shapiro’s distinctive way of making readers consider not only cultural norms, but everything the two have in common. Ages 3–7. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/30/2019
Release date: 09/03/2019
Genre: Children's
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