Beauty and the Beast
by Marianna Mayer and illustrated by Mercer Mayer
Fours Winds Press, 1978
Here is a guy I'd really like to know more about. Those who read this blog know that Just for You (the first Little Critter tale published in 1975) was one of those books that really stuck in my head from childhood. The Little Critter series now, for the most part, is super-diluted and pretty blah comparatively. Just think of the Berenstains –- the difference between the hilarious '62 The Big Honey Hunt and the '05 snoozer The Berenstain Bears’ (don't forget the circle C) Seashore Treasure. What Little Critter has become is ultimately and sadly bland -- a phone-in job just like Stan and Jan's books -- preaching humdrum morality lessons with merely OK illustrations. (Sorry guys.)
However, when you see Mayer's books like this one, it is abundantly clear just what an awesome (albeit weird) artist he is. Each page is lush and renaissancey... and just oozes with romance. The monsters and creepies this guy comes up with are far, far out there leading me to believe that his inner life must be a total freak show. He's like the children's book Stephen King, just without the blood and gore.
Written by Mayer's first wife (now he's on his third), this version of Beauty and the Beast is a solid retelling of a timeless story.... if you are a girl, you can't help but go GAGA over this turn-the-frog-into-a-prince saga.
The beast was not dead, but only weak with misery from the loss of her. As Beauty spoke, he stirred, and moved his great head. Before Beauty's eyes, he began to grow stronger. With each breath he took, his beastly appearance began to fade. Hearing his heart still beating Beauty took some water from the pond, and wet his dry lips. But she pulled back in surprise, for her beast was gone and in his place the prince of her dreams lay in her arms.
If you're looking to tempt your daughters away from the Belles, Arials and Jasmines of the world, this would be a nice place to start. I mean, she gets the prince right? And what girl wouldn't want those curls! (Boys too... really... who can resist the beast!?!)
Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp
One Monster After Another
Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo
Me and My Flying Machine
A Special Trick
Little Monster at Work
One Frog Too Many
How the Trollusk Got His Hat