Cameron Dokey brings us a short, young adult book simply titled Belle.
This was a very quick read and while it wasn't exactly "my style" I thought it very well written, I enjoyed their adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast story and I thought this would make a great beach or vacation read.
Belle is the youngest of three sisters who she defines as possessing true "Beauty." Belle believes she has beauty, but not capital-B Beauty like Celeste and April. The defining moment of her childhood is when the family first meets their benefactor and father's business partner Alphonse LeGrand and Belle finds herself, for the first time ever, standing between her sisters. For some reason neither her parents nor Monsieur LeGrand can see her and Belle assumes it is because her sister's Beauty completely enveloped her and her non-Beauty.
Through a series of events, Belle's father encounters the Beast and the fabled Heartwood Tree. The Heartwood Tree story was one of true love, with the wife of a young couple dying and the husband planting a tree over her heart. The white and red petals bloomed year round and never faded. It was legend that nobody was allowed to cut from the tree, but when the right person came the tree would willingly give up a branch for that person.
Naturally, the father finds the Heartwood and the tree gives up a branch to him. The Beast then finds him and demands that the man, known for his woodcarving skills, work the wood so it tells its story. The father says that only his daughter Belle would be able to work the wood. What father does that? But that's the story, so we'll go with it.
Belle returns to find the story inside the Heartwood branch, but can not come up with anything. She lives with the Beast for weeks where he continually asks her to look into his face till the count of five, but each time she can not do it.
Finally he tells him she is homesick and wants to go home. He allows her to leave, but in a conversation with Monsieur LeGrand Belle realizes she might love the beast-like man. She rushes back to him, hoping to find him in time.
Belle is part of a series of adaptations of fairy tale stories. There are also books retelling the stories of Cinderella, Mulan, Arabian Nights, Rapunzel and Snow White.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I thoroughly enjoyed the story and Dokey's quick pace. A perfect summer (or snowed in!) read.