Beauty* and the Beast

Weeks passed, and I hadn't found a hauntingly delicious, new-to-me picture book in what felt like forever. But the other day in folklore section, I stumbled across this one.

 I hesitated. How can one's mind not conjure up a yellow frocked, Belle gazing into the eyes of oversized monster squeezed into an ill-fitting blue waist coat.  And of course a singing teapot. Absurd.

I thought I hated this story. But, I was wrong.  The illustrations convinced me to give it a chance and bring it home. It was beautiful.  We have not been transported like that in a long time. 

But no matter how enchanting the story and illustrations were, I still found myself skipping over certain sentences because of my baggage with female gender roles and their fixations. I feel guilty edit reading, but I just can't make myself speak certain desires of fair young maidens.  

Below are the sentences I left out completely:

'Beauty was too young to have any admirers herself, but in any case, her own heart was set on marrying not for money, but for love. She dreamed of the day when she would be swept off her feet by some irresistibly fine and handsome young suitor: a prince among men, and quite probably a real prince as well.'

'Nothing ever happened.  There were no visitors now, no bells ringing, no doors to open with a secret hope of being swept off her feet, head over heels in love. It was becoming clear to Beauty, as the months went by, that no handsome young prince was ever going to knock on the door of their little cottage."

Maybe its because my kids are still too young, or maybe its because I am still getting over the fact that this type of love doesn't exist. (And if it does, is often unrequited.)  But I am very cautious about introducing them to the concept of romantic love? Does this make me some weird sheltering helicopter parent? I am afraid in some moments that it does.

It seems that everything is in conflict. Yes, I want both of my children to be able to dream of getting married one day.. I think. But not nearly yet. So maybe what I am saying is, I think parts of this story are too mature for my audience, unless you are prepared to edit read, or have no qualms with dealing with romantic notions. But for my own paranoid self we aren't quite ready.

In the meantime maybe I will try to laugh at myself and add Dave Barry's new book to my summer reading list, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. We are hitting the road and going back here.


Melinda said...

You're not alone. But I think on a certain level we know that romantic love isn't necessarily a concept we introduce to our kids. It's kind of a part of them and the world they live in. But I know what you mean, and I don't think there's anything wrong with some edit reading. I for one think with some of these wonderful old fairly tales less is more. I look for re-tellings that don't try to attribute motive or too much personality. Does beauty really need to be a romantic with dreams of a prince? Or can she just simply be a person with enough kindness and humility to see the good in something ugly. That's the coolness of the story. p.s. I am immediately going to try to locate a copy of this at my library. Lovely paintings!!

Melinda said...

p.p.s. I edit read all the time. But mostly because loads of Rowan's current favs are BORING

Emily said...

Thanks Melinda! My insightful friend.

cheryl said...

Yes, we edit too. More frequently than I'd like. Some day, I'm sure, it will be easier to find stories that explore conflict and character without relying on over abused tropes and stereotypes. I am hopeful that our efforts will directly impact this bright future much sooner than without them!