Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some of My Beauty and the Beast Books

From the time I started my Beauty and the Beast collection in college, I was always on the lookout for unique versions of the story to fill my shelves.  In honor of the last day of the Fairy Tale Blog Party, I thought I'd share a few of them with you. :)  I have several Disney Beauty and the Beast books, including behind the scenes books, books that discuss the art, animation, or music of the film, some Disney B&tB comic books, and several picture and chapter books that depict the Disney version of the story.  For this post, though, I wanted to focus on my versions other than Disney.  Perhaps in a later post I'll share my Disney books. :)

#1:  "Penelope"
While I'll primarily be talking about books, I have just a couple of movies on my Beauty and the Beast shelf, too.  Most of you probably remember this little film that came out a few years ago.  It's never going to be a huge world-wide hit, and did have some drinking and magic in it, in case that bothers anyone.  While it's not my most favorite film of all time, I enjoyed it and found it very fascinating as a Beauty and the Beast-type story where the roles were reversed.  I also really enjoy James McAvoy's acting, and there's not a whole lot he's in that I feel comfortable watching, so having him play the romantic lead was an added bonus.

#2:  Cannon Movie Tales' "Beauty and the Beast"
I wasn't expecting much when I got this movie for around $4 at Walmart a while back.  And true, the acting is pretty corny and  the girl isn't the best singer in the world.  Still, there were a few unique moments in this version that made me glad I watched it.  The Beast's makeup was also very interesting in this one, and (I thought) quite well done for the 80s.

#3:  "Beastly" by Alex Flinn 
It's been a while since I've read this one, and I know there were some things in it that I didn't appreciate, such as some swearing at the beginning of the book and probably more that I'm not remembering.  However, it was LOADS better than its movie adaptation that just came out a year or so ago (the Beast was actually hairy in the book, which I preferred).  There were some neat plot twists at the end of the story that the movie completely left out.  Overall, I thought it was an interesting retelling.  It's still not an ultimate, but it was fun to see how the author brought the story to the modern world.  I especially enjoyed the online conversations among different fairy tale characters that took place between the regular chapters.  This isn't one I would fully recommend, so if you want a little more info about it, you can comment or email me. :) 

#4.  Treasury of Illustrated Classics' "Beauty and the Beast" 
This was a copy my mom found at a thrift store when we were on vacation.  I wasn't sure that I wanted to add it to my collection at first.  The illustrations weren't my favorite, and it was a very simplified version, as it was meant to be read by younger children.  As I flipped through it, though, I noticed that it was very similar to the original version by Madame le Prince de Beaumont.  Since it was only 99 cents, I decided to give it a try.  One of the things that's so funny to me about the original is that after the story we're all familiar with, the prince basically explains in great detail how he was enchanted, and then proceeds to tell the entire story over again from his perspective.  It makes me laugh because it goes against everything you'd be taught in a writing course.  And yet, I must confess that many Beauty and the Beast stories feel so abrupt in their ending.  You've spent all this time with "Beauty and the Beast", and just when you're trying to get used to the idea of "Beauty and the Prince", it's all over. ;)  There's got to be a happy medium somehow.

The Beast from this version is kind of like a weird sort of gorilla/bear mutation or something.

Beauty in one of the illustrations.  I wonder what happened to her bottom lip? ;)

#5.  Jim Henson's "The Story-Teller" 
I found this book on Amazon shortly after discovering the TV series it was based on.  What's interesting is that some of the stories are slightly different from their movie versions, even though the movies were made first.  I don't care for all of the stories.  I basically bought this for "Hans My Hedgehog" and "Sapsorrow" (although Jen, you might be interested to know that there is a story called "The Three Ravens" that is basically a retelling of "The Wild Swans").

Here's a picture of Hans from "Hans My Hedgehog" (like I said in an earlier post, it's very interesting seeing the Beast as a giant, grouchy hedgehog). :}  I have to say, all of the illustrations in this book are stunning and look very much like the original actors and actresses from the film versions.  

Here's a picture of the Princess.

While at its core "Sapsorrow" is essentially a combination of "Cinderella" and "Furball", it also is a "Beauty and the Beast" tale with the roles reversed, which is what I enjoyed about it.  (The prince is a real jerk, though...I don't know what made her fall in love with him.)  The only thing I didn't really care for was the part of the plot where, due to an accidental ring fitting, Sapsorrow was going to be forced to marry her father.  It was just a little weird to me, and I wish they would have come up with a different reason for her to run away. 

Here's poor Sapsorrow, also known as "Straggletag".  Her makeup in the film was pretty amazing.

A happy ending for Sapsorrow and the Prince.

#6:  "Beauty and the Beast" by Max Eilenberg; Illustrated by Angela Barrett 
This book was one of my more recent finds.  I loved the unique illustrations in this one.  It's a longer retelling than most of the picture books versions, and unique enough between the story and the illustrations that I really wanted it for my collection.

Beauty's father first arriving at the Beast's castle.

This Beast is quite hairy and almost catlike, with some wolf or bear thrown in...and check out that tail!

Beauty first meets the Beast.

I love the emotion in this illustration.

#7:  "Beauty and the Beast" by Marianna Mayer; Illustrated by Mercer Mayer 
I grew up on the Little Critter books, as well as Professor Wormbog and Herbert the Timid Dragon, so I was already a big fan of Mercer Mayer's illustrations.  When I found his version of "Beauty and the Beast", though, I was blown away by the beauty and depth of his artwork.

There is so much depth and attention to detail.

Even his color palette makes you think of a fairy tale with its elegant, rich, brown tones.

I just love looking through it to see the pictures and discover new details I never noticed before.

Beauty meets the Prince.  To me, this illustration is always really important to a story.  If the prince is disappointing, it colors the rest of the book for me.  (Honestly, it took me a long time to get used to the prince at the end of the Disney version.) ;)

#8:  "Beauty and the Beast" by Jan Brett 
While I prefer brunettes in the role of "Beauty" and normally don't care for versions where the Beast is portrayed as some sort of wild boar or warthog, the sheer loveliness of Jan Brett's illustrations in this book won me over.  She has such an incredible eye for detail, and I love her amazing depictions of animals.  

I actually got to meet Jan Brett at a book signing once.  I brought some of my illustrations with me to show her, and turned into a complete babbling idiot (why oh why couldn't I have been smooth and amazing while talking to her?).  She was very gracious and took the time to talk to each individual, even though there were so many of us there.  I'm wishing I'd had the foresight to bring this book with me to sign.  Instead, I purchased a book from the store that she signed.  I still have it somewhere.  

I love the richness of the clothing and all of the little details that make her work come alive.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this version was the fact that on several of the pages, there were tapestries in the background showing the enchanted characters in their human form.  It was a fun little extra.  And I must say, I love Beauty's gown in this picture. :)

In this version, all of the Beast's servants are animals (and once again, you can see the tapestry in the background, showing them in their human form).

I love Beauty's hair in this picture.

The Beast...nasty...what's that on his tusks?  When was the last time he brushed?  See, I sooo would not have been able to break the spell. ;)

And here's the transformation picture at the end.  Not my favorite Prince, but he'll do.  ;)

#9:  "The Lady and the Lion" by Laurel Long and Jacqueline K. Ogburn; Illustrated by Laurel Long 
This book is basically a version of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" with a Lion as the enchanted Prince instead of a Polar Bear.  I love the beautiful artwork it has.  The other thing I've always enjoyed about this tale is how the heroine has to prove her loyalty and love after making a grave error.  It kind of reminds me of Marguerite in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (I'm thinking of the book version), when she follows Percy in secret after realizing that she's betrayed him.

The illustrations in this version are full of vibrant colors that have a Middle Eastern or Oriental flair.

The Lady and the Lion.

The Lion is really a Prince under an evil spell (surprise, surprise!). ;) 

The witch who destroys their happiness...for a time.

#10:  "Beauty" by Robin McKinley 
I know I already mentioned this version in my blog party answers, but I just had to give it another shout out here.  This is, hands down, one of my very favorite versions of the story.  I love her writing style and the fact that "Beauty" isn't the typical beautiful, perfect one.  I also love the fact that Beauty's family is so loving in this version.  And I love Greatheart the horse, too. :)  The Beast is such a wonderful, sympathetic character in this one.  I felt that McKinley did a great job in bringing more to him than most versions do.  If you're a Beauty and the Beast fan, just find yourself a copy.  You won't regret it! :)

And, since it happens to be on my shelf with my other versions, I thought I'd share a few more illustrations from my Beauty and the Beast story with you.  As I've said in earlier posts, please do not use these or post them elsewhere without my permission.  These pictures represent hours of work.

"The Beast" proposes to "Beauty" for the first time.

The only thing that irks me about this illustration is the fact that "Beauty's" fork appears to be in the "Beast's" mouth.  I didn't notice this until it was too late to change it. :}

Sharing a dance.

I had a lot of fun doing this one.

I was especially pleased with how her dress turned out in this photo.  I spent weeks pouring through bridal magazines, looking for inspiration and piecing dresses together.

"The Beast" transformed.  Some fun trivia about this picture:  I drew the prince in a cape because I really detest trying to draw proper proportions on men's arms and shoulders (so basically, I'm lazy). ;)  Afterwards, though, I realized that in the previous picture, "Beast" had a sleeveless shirt and no cape.  So then I had to go back and add to the narrative to explain how he ended up with the cape. ;)   

"Beauty's" chin ended up a little bit bigger than I would have liked in this one, but oh well.  I guess I can't be too picky. ;) 

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Perhaps it will inspire you to dust off some of your old childhood fairy tale books, or even look for new versions at the store.  Everyone can use a good fairy tale fix now and then. ;)

Remember, today is the last day to participate in the Fairy Tale Blog Party.  I'll be doing a drawing tomorrow to see who gets my "Fairy Tale Faces" artwork.  Thanks so much to everyone who's taken part already. :)


Natasha Marie said...

I used to get the Jan Brett Beauty and the Beast from the library all the time when I was a kid. I LOVE the illustrations! Yes, the tapestries in the background are such a beautiful, extra touch. Oh, I forgot how much I loved the illustrations! So, so beautiful. I really must get a copy of this book at some point.
Thank you so much for sharing!

beastsbelle said...

You're welcome. :) Good to hear from you.

All AG said...

You pictures are so beautiful! I love them! I think I need to start making a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but I just do not know how. Anyways, I got 10 fairytale books at the library, I read them all the time!

beastsbelle said...

Thanks, All AG. Doing a Fairy Tale retelling can be tricky, but it can be lots of fun, too. Just think about the questions you've always had about your favorite fairy tale, and then try to answer them. ;)

Sounds like you found some great library books! :) I'm thinking of checking mine for a few fairy tale stories, too. :)

Claire said...

I had heard you mention Beauty a couple of times, and now I'll have to see if my library has it - I'm a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast story! :)

And I've never seen "Penelope", but I do love Reese Witherspoon and I remember hearing about it multiple times from a few friends. I'll have to check it out. :)

As a quick addendum, I'll say the one thing I HAVE read from this list is Beastly. I liked the book so much more than the movie...the movie was very forgettable, in my opinion. I did like the book though, even if I did think they could have left out a couple of points here and there.

All in all, I think I'll have to check out "Penelope" and Beauty - thanks for the recommendations! :)

beastsbelle said...

You're welcome...I hope you enjoy them! :)

KrissyLou said...

Hi there, I found your blog a few days ago and am LOVING it :) Just wanted to add - in case you didn't know - that McKinley did another retelling called "Rose Daughter" (1997) - I think you might like that one even more ;)

beastsbelle said...

Hi KrissyLou...nice to "meet" you. :) I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog! It's always great to get to know folks with similar interests. :)

I've heard of "Rose Daughter" but haven't ever read it. I probably should break down and do so...I just loved "Beauty" so much that I was hesitant to read another retelling by the same author. Yeah, I know...I'm a little weird. ;)