Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

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!?!)

Also by:
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
Bubble Bubble
One Frog Too Many
How the Trollusk Got His Hat


Nicole said...

"Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like" is awesome, if you haven't already read it...

Burgin Streetman said...

i just found that at a library sale today. i'm psyched!

Janna said...

The illustrations of the beast terrified me when I was little. I'm not sure why, looking at it now.

Have you read The Wizard Comes to Town by Mercer Mayer? I loved that one.

Antmusic said...

I found the COOLEST thing on ebay a few months ago. A 500 piece puzzle of the cover art for this book (Mercer Mayer's "Beauty and the Beast")! And I paid less than $10!

Chandra said...

This book is lovely! I'm a huge Mercer Mayer fan and what's funny is that I've never cracked open one of his Little Critter books. I'm a Liza Lou, Professor Wormbog and Herbert the Timid Dragon fan! Also, I think his version of Sleeping Beauty is fabulous - really impressive considering it's not one of my favorite fairy tales.

@Janna - The Wizard Comes to Town is fantastic!

Justine Greenland Duke said...

This was my mist beloved book as a child and I've saved it for my own kids. I enjoyed other Mercer Mayer books but this stands out in my opinion as a masterpiece. I've always wondered though what era these illustrations were inspired by...

kamagra said...

Book to be keep,nice story very much inspiring. True love story despite the physical features.

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