Belle: A Retelling of

Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" (Once upon a Time Series)

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by Cameron Dokey

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Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the


Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood -- and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jennifer McConnel
The installment in the wonderful Once Upon a Time series does not disappoint. Annabelle Evangeline Delaurier, or Belle as her mother insists upon calling her, has thought about beauty her entire life. The youngest of three daughters, Belle realized at a very young age that her sisters' beauty would eclipse her if she tried to compete with them. To save herself embarrassment, Belle withdraws from society to focus on what she loves most, woodcarving, a skill she inherited from her father. Just as Belle is being forced back into the world of parties and elegant gowns, the family fortunes take a turn for the worse. Selling off everything they once valued, the Delaurier family moves to a quaint cottage away from town, far away on the other side of the myth-shrouded Wood. This story is recognizably that of Beauty and the Beast. Pleasantly, however, the convention that Belle is the sweetest and least greedy of her sisters is thrown to the winds by Dokey. All three sisters are flawed and struggling to develop their own identities. This wonderful re-envisioning of a popular tale adds depth not only to Belle but also to her family. The characters are relatable, and the love story that is at the heart of the traditional version is allowed to be peripheral to the story of self-discovery and growth as Belle and her sisters achieve their potential. Reviewer: Jennifer McConnel

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Simon Pulse
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Once upon a Time Series
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877 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Two

I didn't literally disappear, of course. I was still right there, just like always. Or rather, not like always because, incredible as it may seem, I had never actually occupied the space between my sisters.

Maybe it was because Maman sensed the possibility of what did, in fact, occur. Or perhaps it was simply that, in spite of her sometimes impulsive nature, Maman liked everything, including her daughters, to be well-organized. Whatever the reason, until that fateful moment, I had never occupied the space between my sisters for the simple reason that we spent our lives in chronological order.

Celeste. April. Belle.

Everything about my sisters and me was arranged in this fashion, in fact. It was the way our beds were lined up in our bedroom; our places at the dining table, where we all sat in a row along one side. It was the order in which we got dressed each morning and had our hair brushed for one hundred and one strokes each night. The order in which we entered a room or left it, and were introduced to guests. The only exception was when we were allowed to open our presents all together, in a great frenzy of paper and ribbons, on Christmas morning.

This may seem very odd to you, and you may wonder why it didn't to any of us. All that I can say is that order in general, but most especially the order in which one was born, was considered very important in the place where I grew up. The oldest son inherited his father's house and lands. Younger daughters did not marry unless the oldest had first walked down the aisle. So if our household paid strict attention to which sister came first, second, and (at long last) third, the truth is that none of us thought anything about the arrangement at all.

Until the day Monsieur LeGrand came to call.

Monsieur LeGrand was my father's oldest and closest friend, though Papa had seen him only once and that when he was five years old. In his own youth, Monsieur LeGrand had been the boyhood friend of Papa's father, Grand-père Georges. It was Monsieur LeGrand who had brought to Grand-mère Annabelle the sad news that her young husband had been snatched off the deck of his ship by a wave that curled around him like a giant fist, then picked him up and carried him down to the bottom of the ocean.

In some other story, Monsieur LeGrand might have stuck around, consoled the young widow in her grief, then married her after a suitable period of time. But that story is not this one. Instead, soon after reporting his sad news, Monsieur LeGrand returned to the sea, determined to put as much water as he could between himself and his boyhood home.

Eventually, Monsieur LeGrand became a merchant specializing in silk, and settled in a land where silkworms flourished, a place so removed from where he'd started out that if you marked each city with a finger on a globe, you'd need both hands. Yet even from this great distance, Monsieur LeGrand did not forget his childhood friend's young son.

When Papa was old enough, Grand-mère Annabelle took him by the hand and marched him down to the waterfront offices of the LeGrand Shipping Company. For, though he no longer lived in the place where he'd grown up, Monsieur LeGrand maintained a presence in our seaport town. My father then began the process that took him from being the boy who swept the floors and filled the coal scuttles to the man who knew as much about the safe passage of sailors and cargo as anyone.

When that day arrived, Monsieur LeGrand made Papa his partner, and the sign above the waterfront office door was changed to read legrand, delaurier and company. But nothing Papa ever did, not marrying Maman nor helping to bring three lovely daughers into the world, could entice Monsieur LeGrand back to where he'd started.

Over the years, he had become something of a legend in our house. The tales my sisters and I spun of his adventures were as good as any bedtime stories our nursemaids ever told. We pestered our father with endless questions to which he had no answers. All that he remembered was that Monsieur LeGrand had been straight and tall. This was not very satisfying, as I'm sure you can imagine, for any grown-up might have looked that way to a five-year-old.

Then one day — on my tenth birthday to be precise — a letter arrived. A letter that caused my father to return home from the office in the middle of the day, a thing he never does. I was the first to spot Papa, for I had been careful to position myself near the biggest of our living room windows, the better to watch for any presents that might arrive.

At first, the sight of Papa alarmed me. His face was flushed, as if he'd run all the way from the waterfront. He burst through the door, calling for my mother, then dashed into the living room and caught me up in his arms. He twirled me in so great a circle that my legs flew out straight and nearly knocked Maman's favorite vase to the floor.

He'd had a letter, Papa explained when my feet were firmly on the ground. One that was better than any birthday present he could have planned. It came from far away, from the land where the silkworms flourished, and it informed us all that, at long last, Monsieur LeGrand was coming home.

Not surprisingly, this threw our household into an uproar. For it went without saying that ours would be the first house Monsieur LeGrand would come to visit. It also went without saying that everything needed to be perfect for his arrival.

The work began as soon as my birthday celebrations were complete. Maman hired a small army of extra servants, as those who usually cared for our house were not great enough in number. They swept the floors, then polished them until they gleamed like gems. They hauled the carpets out of doors and beat them. Every single picture in the house was taken down from its place on the walls and inspected for even the most minute particle of dust. While all this was going on, the walls themselves were given a new coat of whitewash.

But the house wasn't the only thing that got polished. The inhabitants got a new shine as well. Maman was all for us being reoutfitted from head to foot, but here, Papa put his foot down. We must not be extravagant, he said. It would give the wrong impression to Monsieur LeGrand. Instead, we must provide his mentor and our benefactor with a warm welcome that also showed good sense, by which my father meant a sense of proportion.

So, in the end, it was only Papa and Maman who had new outfits from head to foot. My sisters and I each received one new garment. Celeste, being the oldest, had a new dress. April had a new silk shawl. As for me, I was the proud owner of a new pair of shoes.

It was the shoes that started all the trouble, you could say. Or, to be more precise, the buckles.

They were made of silver, polished as bright as mirrors. They were gorgeous and I loved them. Unfortunately, the buckles caused the shoes to pinch my feet, which in turn made taking anything more than a few steps absolute torture. Maman had tried to warn me in the shoe shop that this would be the case, but I had refused to listen and insisted the shoes be purchased anyhow.

"She should never have let you have your own way in the first place," Celeste pronounced on the morning we expected Monsieur LeGrand.

My sisters and I were in our bedroom, watching and listening for the carriage that would herald Monsieur LeGrand's arrival. Celeste was standing beside her dressing table, unwilling to sit lest she wrinkle her new dress. April was kneeling on a cushion near the window, the silk shawl draped around her shoulders, her own skirts carefully spread out around her. I was the only one actually sitting down. Given the choice between the possibility of wrinkles or the guarantee of sore feet, I had decided to take my chances with the wrinkles.

But though I was seated, I was hardly sitting still. Instead, I turned my favorite birthday present and gift from Papa — a small knife for wood carving that was cunningly crafted so that the blade folded into the handle — over and over between my hands, as if the action might help to calm me.

Maman disapproves of my wood carving. She says it isn't ladylike and is dangerous. I have pointed out that I'm just as likely to stab myself with an embroidery needle as I am to cut myself with a wood knife. My mother remains unconvinced, but Papa is delighted that I inherited his talent for woodwork.

"And put that knife away," Celeste went on. "Do you mean to frighten Monsieur LeGrand?"

"Celeste," April said, without taking her eyes from the street scene below. "Not today. Stop it."

Thinking back on it now, I see that Celeste was feeling just as nervous and excited as I was. But Celeste almost never handles things the way I do, or April either, for that matter. She always goes at things head-on. I think it's because she's always first. It gives her a different view of the world, a different set of boundaries.

"Stop what?" Celeste asked now, opening her eyes innocently wide. "I'm just saying Maman hates Belle's knives, that's all. If she shows up with one today, Maman will have an absolute fit."

"I know better than to take my wood-carving knife into the parlor to meet a guest," I said, as I set it down beside me on my dressing table.

"Well, yes, you may know better, but you don't always think, do you?" Celeste came right back. She swayed a little, making her new skirts whisper to the petticoats beneath as they moved from side to side. Celeste's new dress was a pale blue, almost an exact match for her eyes. She'd wanted it every bit as much as I'd wanted my new shoes.

"For instance, if you'd thought about how your feet might feel instead of how they'd look, you'd have saved yourself a lot of pain, and us the trouble of listening to you whine."

I opened my mouth to deny it, then changed my mind. Instead, I gave Celeste my very best smile. One that showed as many of my even, white teeth as I could. I have very nice teeth. Even Maman says so.

I gave the bed beside me a pat. "If you're so unconcerned about the way you look," I said sweetly, "why don't you come over here and sit down?"

Celeste's cheeks flushed. "Maybe I don't want to," she answered.

"And maybe you're a phony," I replied. "You care just as much about how you look as I do, Celeste. It just doesn't suit you to admit it, that's all."

"If you're calling me a liar — ," Celeste began hotly.

"Be quiet!" April interrupted. "I think the carriage is arriving!"

Quick as lightning, Celeste darted to the window, her skirts billowing out behind her. I got to my feet, doing my best to ignore how much they hurt, and followed. Sure enough, in the street below, the grandest carriage I had ever seen was pulling up before our door.

"Oh, I can't see his face!" Celeste cried in frustration, as we saw a gentleman alight. A moment later, the peal of the front doorbell echoed throughout the house. April got to her feet, smoothing out her skirts as she did so. In the pit of my stomach, I felt a group of butterflies suddenly take flight.

I really did care about the way I looked, if for no other reason than how I looked and behaved would reflect upon Papa and Maman. All of us wanted to make a good impression on Monsieur LeGrand.

"My dress isn't too wrinkled, is it?" I asked anxiously, and felt the butterflies settle down a little when it was Celeste who answered.

"You look just fine."

"The young ladies' presence is requested in the parlor," our housekeeper, Marie Louise, announced from the bedroom door. Marie Louise's back is always as straight as a ruler, and her skirts are impeccably starched. She cast a critical eye over the three of us, then gave a satisfied nod.

"What does Monsieur LeGrand look like, Marie Louise?" I asked. "Did you see him? Tell us!"

Marie Louise gave a sniff to show she disapproved of such questions, though her eyes were not unkind.

"Of course I saw him," she answered, "for who was it who answered the door? But I don't have time to stand around gossiping any more than you have time to stand around and listen. Get along with you, now. Your parents and Monsieur LeGrand are waiting for you in the parlor."

With a rustle of skirts, she left.

My sisters and I looked at one another for a moment, as if catching our collective breath.

"Come on," Celeste said. And, just like that, she was off. April followed hard on her heels.

"Celeste," I begged, my feet screaming in agony as I tried to keep up. "Don't go so fast. Slow down."

But I was talking to the open air, for my sisters were already gone. By the time I made it to the bedroom door, they were at the top of the stairs. And by the time I made it to the top of the stairs, they were at the bottom. Celeste streaked across the entryway, then paused before the parlor door, just long enough to give her curls a brisk shake and clasp her hands in front of her as was proper. Then, without a backward glance, she marched straight into the parlor with April trailing along behind her.

Slowly, I descended the stairs, then came to a miserable stop in the downstairs hall.

Should I go forward, I wondered, or should I stay right where I am?

No matter who got taken to task over our entry later — and someone most certainly would be — there could be no denying that I was the one who would look bad at present. I was the one who was late. I'd probably already embarrassed my parents and insulted our honored guest. Perhaps I should simply slink away, back to my room, I thought. I could claim I'd suddenly become ill between the top of the stairs and the bottom, that it was in everyone's best interest that I hadn't made an appearance, particularly Monsieur LeGrand's.

And perhaps I could flap my arms and fly to the moon.

That's when I heard the voices drifting out of the parlor.

There was Maman's, high and piping like a flute. Papa's with its quiet ebb and flow that always reminds me of the sea. Celeste and April I could not hear at all, of course. They were children and would not speak unless spoken to first. And then I heard a voice like the great rumble of distant thunder say:

"But where is la petite Belle?"

And, just as real thunder will sometimes inspire my feet to carry me from my own room into my parents', so too the sound of what could be no other than Monsieur LeGrand's voice carried me through the parlor door and into the room beyond. As if to make up for how slowly my feet had moved before, I overshot my usual place in line. Instead of ending up at the end of the row, next to April, I came to a halt between my two sisters. April was to my left and Celeste to my right. We were out of order for the first and only time in our lives.

I faltered, appalled. For I was more than simply out of place, I was also directly in front of Monsieur LeGrand.

Copyright © 2008 by Cameron Dokey

Meet the Author

Cameron Dokey is the author of nearly thirty young adult novels. Her other fairy tales include, The Storyteller’s Daughter, Sunlight and Shadow, and Golden. She has also written the #1 bestselling How Not to Spend Your Senior Year. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and four cats.

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Belle 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
Young-Writer19 More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed in this book. Don't get me wrong, it was worth the read, but I was disappointed that the author had such a small amount of development between the Beast and Belle. You don't even meet the Beast until the last third of the book. It basically forcuses on Belle's development, and the development between her and her family when it comes to a relationship. Not what I expected when I wanted to read something about Beauty and the Beast. I would say that this is a great book to barrow from a friend or get at the library. I would not buy it.
Emily Zimmerman More than 1 year ago
I've always loved Beauty and the Beast, but i was really suprised to read Belle's point of view. If you like Beauty and the Beast, you'll love Belle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very disapointing. Just skipped through the pages until i reached the end
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
The Beast doesn't appear in the story until later on. Seemed more about Belle and her family than her and the Beast. The book was a good read none the less.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not this series best book but decent enough. You dont really get to know the beast good enough. Pretty much just about Bella in beginning so u get bored very easily
UEHawk More than 1 year ago
I found this book just browsing for something to pass the time. Now I fin myself looking for the rest of the books in the series. I love the story of Belle and her Beast, and this story in no way disappointed my love of the story. It was an excellent retelling that I will rerea again in the future.
Book_Girl14 More than 1 year ago
"Belle" is a wonderful book! Great characters and a great story! It is a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" but it is a story that stands out on its own. A book you could read over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ive read like every remake of beauy and the beast and this one was so good i love the hole tree thing and its so romantic! love it!!!!!
Patty_York More than 1 year ago
I loved the slant the book takes on Beauty and the Beast. These books tell the story in a whole different light. I loved it from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Belle is a beautiful young girl who is loved by her family. While once rich, her family has sold everything to live in the country in a cottage. She is especilly close to her father. At times she may feel invisible, but her father is always there for her. One day her father gets lost and promises her life orto another because of a special gift she possess. Since the family needs Belle's father, Belle goes off to fulfill the promise made by her father. Belle finds a beatiful if not enchanted palace and gardens where a beast lives. She is frightened and learns she can return home as soon as she has carved something from a tree branch. She is having trouble figuring out what is should be. As soon as she can figure it out she will be able to return home to her family.
uniquesaver More than 1 year ago
this book was all about beauty and what it meant and how belle seem to find it. yeah i will admit that most people wouldn't want to read back then novels but this one is more then the retelling of beauty and the beast. it helps you see that what beauty truly means. i dont think any other book as got me so focus on it then this book. im not the reading type but it got me hooked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey if you want a book just ipon the telling of beauty and beast then go get one. You shoud know that his book will be about belle, hence he title belle!!!! Erg you people who weren't clever enough to tell what this book is about. My opinion? Best book ever don't you forget it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kay2lynn More than 1 year ago
This is the 1st boor from the 'Once Upon a Time' Books that Ive read- and I am very pleased of the story! It is different then the original telling of "Beauty and the Beast" and also the Disney version. but I honestly Really enjoyed this book very much! :D
Crystal_Kido More than 1 year ago
This is a very well written re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with a few interesting changes that make it unique and keep the reader intrigued about what will happen next.
stnkrbell More than 1 year ago
FairytaleKP More than 1 year ago
Being an avid reader of the Once Upon a Time series, I look forward to every new book that enters into the series. I was expecting a whole new take on the Beauty and the Beast story when reading Belle, but unfortunately I was very disappointed. It's not that I did not like the book or was bored reading it, I just felt that it was nothing new. I could not help thought to see the comparisons it had to Robin Mckinley's book Beauty. I must say that they had many similarities and considering Mckinley's book came out first I can't help but like the book Beauty better. Belle lacks the lovely writing that Mckinley's book possesses. Belle also seemed to be rushed. The beginning dragged on a bit and then the end when the Beast came into the picture seemed to be rushed. The Beast in most Beauty and the Beast story re-tellings is one of my favorite characters, but in this book I did not get to see the Beast often enough. Also the story of the Heartwood Tree seemed to be brought up and talked about and then dropped out of the story leaving me wondering why it was mentioned in the first place. If you are a collector and reader of the Once Upon a Time series or an avid fairy-tale reader like myself , you will want to add this to your collection. I liked the book, but only wished it was longer and more developed.
ChilePepper More than 1 year ago
well written, predictable, sweet; my only complaint was that more time should have been devoted to explore the Beast's character and the development of their attraction... It was a pleasant take on the traditional Beauty and the Beast story with a new interpretation of Belle's plight and family conflict. Her sisters are not wicked, her family caring, but there is still conflict--internal ones involving self-esteem and self-respect. Happy endings abound!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like once upon a time- the Tv series, then you'll love this! With a little twist; this will bring excitment to one of your childhood memories, and a new love and understanding for the characters in this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whats the age recomendation? Preteen or teen or young adult? Thank you! Ps please respond to belle z Thans again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Merfairy613 More than 1 year ago
It was ok but not really my favorite. The ending was a little confusing and to quick
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book a lot!