Finding a good illustrated version of a classic fairy tale can be quite a challenge. All too often, the illustrations are ugly, or creepy, or both. The below picture is an excellent example, even though it comes from one of my childhood books and I kind of want to get a copy and kind of never want to see it again:
If terrified ambivalence is not something you are interested in, and being awoken by children/partners afraid of creepy-ass Bosch-styled monsters isn’t your thing, then you might want to check out Jan Brett’s books. She has illustrated and retold literally millions of tales, from the Ukrainian folk tale The Mitten to a version of Three Little Pigs set in Namibia. My boy’s new favorite is her version of Beauty and the Beast.
After seeing the Jean Cocteau and the Disney versions, (oh and that Ron Perlman take too) it would be difficult to approach this classic Perrault story with fresh eyes. But Jan Brett does a fantastic job. The beast isn’t even a lion thing like he is in every other version. He’s a big hairy hog! Which is far less sexy than a lion, which makes Beauty’s decision to marry him that much nobler.
But seriously, it’s no wonder she has 37 MILLION books in print. She’s a terribly talented illustrator. The pictures are so rich and filled with little hidden treats for kids to pick out of the details. Fun.