As someone who has studied, analyzed, and heartily adored the story of the Beauty and the Beast, new adaptations absolutely thrill me. Anyone who has seen a previous book from Mahlon and Kinuko Craft (such as their Sleeping Beauty picture book) knows what a gorgeous result they put together, and Beauty and the Beast is no exception.
Like any adaptation, certain themes are usually focused on more so than others, especially given the range of them to choose from in a tale like this. This version focuses on Beauty’s kindness and gives a nice amount of attention to the Beast’s melancholy, which is sometimes glossed over in different versions. Beauty’s kindness is shown throughout, but it is perhaps most notable in relationship to her sisters, who are often bitter and jealous of her. Beauty makes every effort to warm their hearts, but she eventually reaches a beautiful point where she accepts that no amount of kindness can help those unwilling to change. On the Beast’s side, readers can hear his deep sadness in almost every line of dialogue. He demonstrates the heart wrenching despair of someone heavy with self-loathing but also the fragile hope of someone who receives, and wants to offer, kindness.
The illustrations are as beautiful as the text, rich in color, nature, and light. The immense details range from tiny petals on every flower to a specific head angle that gives so much expression. Anyone who admires gorgeous illustrations will want to frame every image.
Kinuko and Mahlon Craft have added a perfect variant to the Beauty and the Beast tradition. This Beauty and the Beast picture book is a must for fans of the fairy tale, library collections, and readers young and old.