A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Beastly is a contemporary "Beauty and the Beast" retelling told from the Beast's viewpoint. And before he turns into a beast, Kyle is one mean, shallow rich guy who delights in verbally kicking the nerds until they hurt. Other violence includes characters getting shot and a broken arm, plus a main character is almost the victim of an apparent rape. There's also plenty of kissing with an inference of sex. The film adaptation came out in 2010.
What's the story?
In a comtemporary retelling of \"Beauty and the Beast,\" Kyle Kingsbury has the perfect life in NYC. He's rich, beautiful, and adored by everyone except his parents. He's also conceited, mean, and shallow, just like his father. So mean that a witch curses him by turning him into a beast, with only two years to find someone who will love him without his beauty. His father travels the globe to find a cure but fails, so he sets Kyle up with a blind tutor and a maid and hides him away. Although Kyle finds solace in gardening and the friendship of his captive staff, when he encounters a thief willing to trade his daughter for freedom, he jumps at the chance to convince a girl he is lovable before his time runs out.
Is it any good?
There are no surprises for readers familar wth the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast," but teens will enjoy the setting and some of the characterizations. The central theme is still transformation and the beast has the same motivations for finding love. Both the main characters (the beauty and the beast) have basically been abandoned emotionally if not physically by their parents, and they attended the same school, so they start off with some common ground.
The use of the chat room sessions for "transformation survivors" adds some entertainment value to a well known story (participants include a mermaid, a frog, and other beasts). Kyle is so mean that it is hard to like him even after he finds true love and the understanding that pretty is as pretty does.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Kyle's transformation. Did he deserve to be cursed? What was the witch's intention? Was a different intention revealed at the end?
Kyle and Linda had both been basically abandoned by their parents. In the end Linda returns to her father, but Kyle does not. What was different in those families?
Did Kyle think LInda was attractive when he met her? Did she become more attractive to him as he fell in love with her? Or was he seeing a different type of beauty?
Our society puts a high premium on physical beauty. Do Kyle and his friends simply say out loud what most people really think? Or are they truly more superficial than normal?
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