The Beauty and the Beast story, French in origin, is one of the newer of the classic fairy tales. The first version of it dates from the mid-eighteenth century, though the tale of a beautiful woman forced by circumstance into romantic proximity to an ugly creature occurs throughout folklore and literature (Cupid and Psyche, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, King Kong).
H.M. Brock's version of Beauty and the Beast (1914) is a sumptuous and romantic one. Brock's figures are lavishly clothed, Beauty is exquisite, and even the Beast is a rather handsome lion. Beast's castle is so huge and dazzling, his gardens are so lavish and even his servants (who are exotic animals) are so beautifully dressed that one can't imagine why Beauty would ever want to leave.
The un-credited author of Beauty and the Beast brings the familiar tale to life admirably. We don't dwell too long on Beauty and her family's financial troubles or horrible sisters, and instead proceed quickly to Beauty's father's fateful visit to the magical castle, where all the delightful details that have long fascinated children (and illustrators and film directors) reside. The disembodied hands serving dinner, the magic roses and of course the transformative powers of love are all handled adroitly.
This powerful story and Brock's lovely illustrations are accompanied by a new introduction from children's literature expert Professor Jerry Griswold.
Laughing Elephant has long enjoyed bringing the great illustrators out of the past and into the present. In their new Illustrated Classics series they hope to revive these treasures with grace and intelligence and delight a whole new generation of children and adults.