A reasonably charming middle-grade version of "Beauty and the Beast" has little bite.
Told in alternating chapters by Beauty and the Beast, who is really a prince named Riley, this takes place in a sort of medieval world (travel by carriage and horseback, inns with straw beds) but has a sharp contemporary tone. Beauty has an older sister who is beautiful and accomplished and pretty nice, and Riley has an older brother whose perfection is somewhat marred by the fact that it is his comments to the witch they encounter that gets Riley turned into the Beast. The story takes a very long time to get started, as Beauty needs to go on a quest of her own before she can rescue the Beast with a kiss. While that quest provides a glowing pink talisman that helps save Riley/the Beast, the connections between the first half and the second half of the story don’t always adhere. But Beauty and the Beast share an interest in science, a lack of interest in fuss and folderol, and more than one very sweet kiss. It’s all so clean and lighthearted and safe that readers accustomed to any edge at all might find their teeth aching; on the other hand, it is part of a series that has found its audience.
Absolutely no villains—even the witch who cast the spell gets to turn herself into a cat to accompany her feline companion—and a bunch of supportive parents, siblings and buddies make for a squeaky-clean read. (Fantasy. 8-12)