Children's Lit Book Reviews

Sunday, April 4, 2010

By: Robin McKinley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 256
Reading Level: 9-12
Genre: Fantasy
"A captivating novel."
-AlA Booklist

Beauty is the youngest of three daughters of a wealthy merchant, Roderick Huston. Her given name is Honour, but at five years old, she said that she'd rather be called "Beauty." The nickname stuck. As she grew older, she felt increasingly ill-named as her sisters, Grace and Hope, became lovelier and more socially adept, and she stayed plain and bookish. Her destitute family eventually relocated to a home located in the northern part of their country to get to a fresh start. A few months later, a ship limped back into port, and Huston returned to town to deal with the crew and selling the ship's cargo. He asked the three daughters if he could bring them any gifts. Grace and Hope, tongue in cheek, requested ropes of pearls and jewels and luxurious ball gowns, while Beauty asked only for rose seeds. Upon the Huston's return from town, he was caught in a blizzard a few miles from home and eventually lost his way in the forest, somehow coming across a mysterious castle. As he left the next day, he plucked one rose from the garden to bring home to Beauty, who hoped to grow roses. The Beast appeared before him, ready to kill him, but he begged for his life, pleading that he had daughters to return to. The Beast decided to let him go if he returned in one month with one of his daughters. Although he demurred, Beauty insisted that she be the one to go in her father's place.The Beast seemed kind, but Beauty was utterly terrified of him and could barely be around him for the first few days. The castle provided her with invisible servants and all the books and food she could want. She came to understand the enchantment on the castle and the Beast. One day, she overheard her servants saying that she was their last hope and that they hoped she could figure it out before it was too late. As the months passed, Beauty came to enjoy living in the castle. There were only two problems: she missed her family; and every night the Beast asked Beauty to marry him. Every night she said, No." One night, she had a magically real dream of her family. The Beast revealed that he could send her "dreams" of her family's life, and showed her his "mirror" through which he watched them—the contents of a special vial poured over a table which served as a distance viewer. Through this mirror, Beauty saw that Grace was planning to marry a local minister and that Robert was alive and had returned from the sea. She begged the Beast to let her go to her family and tell them the news. He reluctantly agreed, but warned her that she could only stay a week, because he would die without her. Beauty was so excited to see her family that she ended up over-staying the week. During her stay, she realized what she had tried to ignore. She was in love with the Beast and he with her. Then, on the eighth morning, Beauty dreamed that the Beast had died and decided to hurry back to the castle. There, she found the Beast laying down and dying, and she confessed her love to him and agreed that she would marry him. This broke the enchantment, and returned the Beast to being a man. Beauty then insisted that she could not marry him because she wasn't as beautiful as a queen or a princess. Immediately, Beast showed Beauty her own reflection in a mirror. In the past year, she had transformed into a beautiful lady.
Who would benefit from reading this book? I think that this is a great book for young adolescent teenage girls to read. It teaches them many great lessons about self worth and that beauty is on the inside rather then the outside.
What problems/concerns could this book potentially cause? I don't think that there are any problems that this book could cause. Certain parts of this book do follow the genre of fantasy very well, but nothing is disputable about it being a fairly well written book.
My reaction: I thought that this was a well written book. However, I did not like it, and I think that's mainly because its somewhat of a girl's novel. But I know that there might be some males who might like reading this. This book just isn't really my cup of tea and I thought it was slightly long and drawn out in certain places. Yet, I will recommend this book to girls who are looking for a romantic fantasy.

posted by Jon Dale at 5:19 PM


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