I discovered Beauty at a homeschool convention in the early 90’s. I fell in love with the cover (good cover art is so important, right??) and purchased it to read aloud to my three daughters (ages 6 – 10-ish). We were enchanted from the first page! I remember vividly finishing the latest chapter one night. I tucked each of the girls in bed, kissed them goodnight, turned off their lights and then sat out in the hallway until WAY past midnight finishing the book all by myself!
Beauty is a lovely and lively re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. I’m a big fan of the two Disney movies, but happily this novel was written more than a decade before the first film was made and it has its own special twists on the tale that have nothing to do with the well-known films.
Beauty is an awkward teenager girl named Honour — ‘Beauty’ is her ironic nickname. She’s the youngest of three daughters, the older two being quite beautiful, but they are also kind and good. This is, in fact, a story of a close-knit, caring family who have fallen on difficult times.
The usual tale plays out with their father meeting the Beast, and Beauty sacrificing herself to pay the father’s debt to him. The descriptions of the mysterious castle, the invisible whispering maids, magical clothing, Beauty’s beloved horse, and, of course, the terrifying but sad Beast just might keep you reading, like me, long past your bedtime.
I’m pretty sure each of us Gates Girls re-read this book at least once — some of us have read it multiple times.
Robin McKinley (a Newbery Medal winner for The Hero and the Crown) has written two other books based on classic fairytales:
Spindle’s End (2000 — retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale)
Middle School reading level, 256 pages, Fairytales, Published 1978.