Beauty and the Beast

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Beauty and the Beast Book Poster Image
Captivating art shapes West African-set fairy tale classic.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book sets out to tell the classic fairy tale through new eyes, with a change in the way Beauty looks, while reinforcing the tale's premise that true beauty is found on the inside.

Positive Messages

The book's imagery reframes the classic tale, making the idea of beauty applicable to everyone regardless of ethnicity. The book also presents the virtues of kindness, forgiveness, and selflessness in an easy-to-understand format for kids.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Beauty is the ultimate role model, and a very kind person by nature, who learns even more about how kindness can change first impressions. The Beast is presented as a softer character, without some of the violent tendencies seen in other versions of the story. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beauty and the Beast promotes the virtues that make the story a classic: finding the beauty inside of people, selfless sacrifice to protect those you love, and the power of showing kindness toward everyone even if they're unkind toward you. Casting the story with West Africans adds to the universal quality of this enduring classic.

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What's the story?

Beauty is the kindest of her sisters. When she learns that her father is in trouble with a horrible beast, Beauty sacrifices her freedom in exchange for her father's life. Over time, Beauty realizes there is more to Beast than meets the eye. When she's granted one chance at freedom, will she take it, or honor her promise to her captor?

Is it any good?

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a wonderful retelling of the classic tale using West African imagery to breathe new life into the vision and prose. The story is enhanced with new details, such as the addition of more siblings for Beauty and a less violent and temperamental version of the Beast. He isn't unhinged and full of rage as seen in other portrayals, which is a nice touch. The story stays upbeat with great pacing, which will go a long way in keeping little readers' attention.

The richness of Pat Cummings' illustrations takes the book to new heights. Each page is full of detail and rich colors. The choice to cast Beauty as a West African is endearing for all audiences, not only for readers of color, because it shows that a classic fairy tale can be about any form of beauty and does not have to conform to any one standard. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about media ideals of beauty. Are certain ideals and standards promoted? How do the images in this book compare with those ideals? Who should define what's beautiful?

  • Families also can talk about romantic expectations. How does the romance in this book differ from that in previous tellings? Do fairy tales promote an idealistic view of love and marriage? Why, or why not?

  • Families with young children can discuss first impressions. Have you ever been afraid of something that turned out to be fun, such as an amusement park ride or a new toy?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and fairy tales

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