cover image Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Ursula Jones, illus. by Sarah Gibb. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-0600-4

Galloping horses, lace cuffs, magnificent gowns, snow-covered forests, ivied turrets, and bowers of roses adorn the pages of this version of the fairy tale, first published in 2012 in the U.K. Gibb offers lacy b&w silhouettes and rosy, dramatically lit spreads, while Jones retells the story of the tormented Beast and his prisoner in lively, unaffected prose. She plays up the cruelty of Beauty’s sisters, portraying the two of them holding onions up to their eyes so they will appear suitably saddened by the prospect of Beauty’s death. In another sly moment, the sisters try on the pretty clothes Beauty has brought home, unaware that the Beast has ensured that only Beauty may wear them; the magical clothing promptly turns into “silly knickers,” humiliating them most satisfactorily. Beauty’s a demure heroine whose virtues are poise (“But Beauty replied ‘Yes, I have,’ so calmly, no one would have guessed how frightened she was”) and quiet truth-telling (“Some people look very kind,” she tells the Beast, “but inside they are really monsters”). Romantically minded readers will leave these dreams of splendor only with reluctance. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)