This is a stellar version of the old story, newly alive in both the telling and in the hauntingly atmospheric pictures. Beauty, of course, is the good daughter of a man whose wealth is sunk with the ships that are carrying it. Beauty's sisters are jealous of her, but her father and three brothers genuinely care for her. When her father tries to recover his wealth, he ends up at a castle where he is treated royally. Just as he cuts a rose from a bush to take home to Beauty, the Beast appears, demanding that one of the man's daughters be brought there to die. Beauty chooses to go, while her sisters cut onions to look as if they're mourning her loss. At the Beast's castle, Beauty is given every comfort, and through the conversations she has with her host each night, sees Beast's good heart and agrees to marry him. In the end, he is transformed into a handsome prince. The characters are fleshed out and so well drawn that the love Beauty has for Beast is entirely believable. The Beast is both dreadful and human. Each page carries either a full page painting or tiny, exquisite insets. (7-10)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4 The test for artists in portraying this classic fairy tale is in the making of the beast. Schroeder delineates him as a gray, spotted beast with a boar-like head and piercing eyes, dressed in a magenta robe. Other versions have ``lionized'' him with varying tusks, horns, and names (Michael Hague Holt, 1980; Mercer Mayer Four Winds, 1978; Diane Goode Bradbury, 1978), while Warwick Hutton (Atheneum, 1985) treated him as a primitive-age man, and Errol Le Cain (Doubleday, 1979) made him an aged humanoid with ears and paws. The fierceness and puissance of Schroeder's image strikingly expresses the power of the story. Full pages of text alternate with ten full-page illustrations and three double-page spreads. Overall, the artwork has a haunting quality, contrasting with the other romanticized, pretty, rococo renditions. Light is used to focus the figures, while shadowy images lurk in the fringe area. Spareness of objects and placement of unusual items lend a surrealistic feeling. Both language and story line flow smoothly. A postscript describes ``Beauty's'' origin and subsequent versions, citing the tale as ``primal'' in its use of symbol. The illustrations fulfill that image. Julie Cummins, Monroe County Lib . Syst., Rochester, N.Y.