cover image Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Geraldine McCaughrean. Carolrhoda Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-57505-491-9

The distinguished author and Greenaway Medal-winning illustrator disappoint with this chilly treatment of a cherished fairy tale. In McCaughrean's (My First Oxford Book of Stories) telling, Beauty is never afraid of the Beast and happily issues him invitations to join her; her sisters like her and want to protect her; and when she goes home, she nearly forgets about the Beast. These changes drain some of the drama from the original, while ornate prose further cushions the tensions of the plot (e.g., the moon ""was a smoking mirror [that] disappeared behind a monstrous paw of cloud""). Blythe (The Whales' Song), meanwhile, contributes illustrations in two different styles. Black-and-white drawings, most of them serving as spot art, suggest traditional fairy-tale settings, such as tangled forests or meadows in full flower. But his full-page paintings have the hard-edged, futuristic look of a CD-ROM game. The supposedly sumptuous castle seems cold and arid, even ominous. Beauty herself appears very young, more girl than bride. All in all, a jarring presentation. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)