cover image Beauty and the Beast and Other Stories

Beauty and the Beast and Other Stories

Adele Geras, Adele Gerard. Viking Children's Books, $16.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86652-6

In this handsome collection of eight stories, foggy, almost pointillist paintings reinvent the traditional fairy tale landscape as an empty expanse, sparsely populated by tortured trees and thorny bushes. Brierley (Peacock Pie) uses a palette of chestnut and rose to present eerie scenes: Rapunzel with her heavy braid supported by iron clamps; Belle sitting alone at a huge, suggestively canopied supper table, awaiting the Beast's arrival. The human characters have solid, Eastern European faces, and the monsters display a raggedy canine ferocity. Although she provides no foreword or introduction to explain her choices, Geras recounts the tales with an emphasis on dialogue and adds original touches. For example, although the crone in the candy house has fed them on thick soup and apple pancakes, Gretel has her suspicions: ""I think,"" she says to Hansel, ""that this old woman may be a witch.... She has red eyes. That is a sure sign, they say."" Such details bring out the unearthly wonder and poignant horror that underlie these well-loved yarns. All ages. (Nov.)