Beast by Donna Jo Napoli.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers: NY, 2000.

Beast is the part of Beauty and the Beast the reader never hears. The explanation of why Beast is no longer human. Napoli draws on Charles Lamb's 1811 description of the Beast as a Persian prince to tell the tale.

In the context of our times, it was difficult at first to read the story. The beginning atmosphere is strongly different in texture. Also, not knowing of Charles Lamb's version, my initial reaction was that it was a racial slur to say the Beast was Persian (Given the long history of animosity, it may have been in 1811 as well). However, as I read, it became apparent that Napoli was portraying the Prince as a spiritual and reasonable person. Perhaps Napoli's description of the Persian culture will open up some minds. It is also enlightening to see more personally the Beast's struggle between his human and animal instincts.

related-fairy tales, Iran, Beauty and the Beast
RL=YA   **Publisher says age 12 and up.

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