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Robin Mckinley made her writing debut in 1978 with her book Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Publishers weekly said the book was "a splendid story".
(From Barnes and noble website: http:// www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ beauty-r​obin-mckinley /1102343594? ean=97800 602414​90&itm=1&usr i=robin+mckinley)
"The only comfort I had in being my sisters' sister was that I was "the clever one." To a certain extent this was damning me with faint praise, in the same category as accepting my given name as an epithet accurately reflecting my limited worth -- it was the best that could be said of me. Our governesses had always remarked on my cleverness in a pitying tone of voice. But at least it was true. My intellectual abilities gave me a release, and an excuse. I shunned company because I preferred books; and the dreams I confided to my father were of becoming a scholar in good earnest, and going to University. It was unheard-of that a woman should do anything of the sort-as several shocked governesses were only too quick to tell me, when I spoke a little too boldly -- but my father nodded and smiled and said, "We'll see." Since I believed my father could do anything -- except of course make me pretty -- Iworked and studied with passionate dedication, lived in hope, and avoided society and mirrors.
Our father was a merchant, one of the wealthiest in the city. He was the son of a shipwright, and had gone to sea as a cabin boy when he was not yet ten years old; but by the time he was forty, he and his ships were known in most of the major ports of the world. When he was forty, too, he married our mother, the Lady Marguerite, who was just seventeen. She came of a fine old family that had nothing but its bloodlines left to live on, and her parents were more than happy to accept my father's suit, with its generous bridal settlements. But it had been a happy marriage, old friends told us girls"
Beauty whose real name is Honor is a young girl who loves to read books and learn new things, explore new subjects. She does not think herself very pretty and feels inferior next to her beautiful sisters Hope and Grace. After her father, a wealthy merchant, suffers tremendous financial losses when his ships get lost at sea, Beauty, her sisters and her father must make drastic changes to their lifestyle. Along with her fathers ships, Beauty's sister Grace also loses her fiance Robert Tucker who was a captain on one of the ships.
Beauty and her family decide to sell everything and move to the country side with Hope's fiance, a blacksmith named Ger. There the family set up a decent life for themselves and Beauty most of all learns to be happy with their simple life. One day however Beauty's father goes into the city to handle some business. Upon his return he tells a tale of how he got lost in a snowstorm coming back and stumbled upon a castle in which he took shelter. He told of the castle being enchanted with doors opening by themselves and food appearing out of nowhere as if put there by magic invisible hands. In the morning however when he stopped by the garden outside to pluck a rose for Beauty a dreadfully hideous Beast appeared and told the frightened man that he would spare his life only if he came back to the castle in a months time and brought one of his daughters, who would have to live at the castle with the Beast, though she would not be harmed.
Upon hearing this story, Beauty volunteers and convinces her family to let her go. When her father tries to talk her out of it Beauty says "Can a Beast not be tamed?"...and so her extraordinary journey begins.
What I thought:
I found Beauty to be a wonderfully charming story from beginning to end. The authors words flowed smoothly without any breaks or unnecessary distractions. The characters were engaging, lovable and relatable.
I feel that the reader can relate to Beauty's misgivings about herself (we all have them), and to her sisters occasional longing for the life of luxury they used to lead. They all went through a lot and it's not hard to relate to them, we all go through financial hardships and we all have to make changes to our lives accordingly.
One can even relate to the Beast, a character filled with remorse and regret, weighed down by lessons he wished he had learnt earlier. Honestly, I liked the Beast in this movie more than in the orginial story. This Beast had much more depth as a character, the human he once was shines through and it makes the whole story that much better.
This story was also one of those rare stories which you can see being played out in front of you, the authors words come to life in your mind. I would love it if they made a movie on this book!
There were no parts in the story where I found myself getting bored or felt that the scene was being dragged out. I have read the book many times over and still enjoy it just as much every single time. It's a good book to read when you just want to relax since there are no particularly serious parts like the original story.
Many authors who write their own versions of Disney classics either change it too much or not enough but this story was perfectly balanced. In my opinion Robin Mckinley put a lovely twist on a story that was already great.
(This review is also on Ciao under the same name)
Beauty and the Beast is an animated movie released in 1991, produced and distributed by Disney. The movie was one of the greatest hits of it's time, it was the very first animated movie ever to recieve a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
The movie revolves around a young prince who gets turned into a hideous Beast by an enchantress who is displeased with his vain and shallow attitude. The enchantress also transforms all of his attendants and servants into objects like teapots, clocks, teacups etc. She then gives him an enchanted rose and tells him that he must learn to love and be loved by another in order to turn human again. Agonized over his own appearance, the Beast hides in his palace and becomes even more bitter and unpleasant. After all, who could ever love a Beast?
The film has a great lesson behind it's story. While many people disapprove of Disney movies for their children I think it is almost a tradition now to grow up watching Disney movies and Beauty and the Beast is a classic. The Beast was once a handsome prince who had it all but he was shallow, vain and unkind. He was transformed into a hideous Beast until someone could learn to love him. Lesson- true beauty comes from within, it does not do to become obsessed with what is on the outside.
In a nearby village is a beautiful young girl named Belle who longs for adventure, for something more than her current life. When her father gets imprisoned in the Beasts castle, Belle offers to take her fathers place. Not so much a lesson but it shows kindness,sacrifice and love.
Even though the Beast by normal standards was hideous to look at Belle eventually learnt to see past it. She becomes good friends with the Beast and over time the two fall in love- so many other stories associate the idea of love with a handsome prince and a beautiful young maiden. This prince was anything but handsome which again is a great message to the younger girls to not always make the conventional idea of handsome a requirement for love when they grow up.
Despite a few tense moments the movie does not have any particular action like some Disney movies do which I see as a plus. Not all kids like movies with action and tension, I certainly did not when I was young so this movie was one of the ones I would see over and over again because there were no anxiety inducing parts I had to skip over. If your child does not like particularly tense movies this is a winner. The story moves smoothly throughout there are no parts in the movie when I found myself wondering what was going on, no boring parts and nothing is played out, a complaint I usually have of movies.
The animation, for it's time, was very very good and the whole thing is just...stunning. The amazingly detailed ballroom in which Beauty and her Beast share a dance, the huge library, the grand staircase and even places outside of the castle just look stunning. The attention to detail is great. The music is pleasant, enjoyable and simple.
5.Be Our Guest
7.The Mob Song
8.Beauty and The Beast
9.To the Fair
11.The Beast lets Belle Go
12.Battle on the Tower
14.Beauty and the Beast (Peabo Bryson & Celine Dion)
On the whole, it is a lovable, entertaining movie and one you will not regret watching, though your kids especially daughters may become extremely obsessed with it so you may be watching it more than once lo
(This review also appears on Ciao)
This is one of my favorite disney movies of all time (well ok I love practically all the disney movies but this one was in the top 5). From the music to the storyline to the characters everything was fantastic in my opinion. The movie was released in 1999 by Walt Disney Pictures and was based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes).
As an infant Tarzan and his parents escaped a burning ship and washed up on the shores near the jungle where the story takes place. His parents build a small home for themselves in the jungle but they're killed by a leopard named Sabor. Tarzan is then left all alone in his crib in the treehouse his parents had built when he is discovered by a female ape, Kala, who has just recently lost a child. Taken by the infant she rescues him from the leopard who coincidentally appears around the tree house at the same time as her. Kala then takes Tarzan back to her family and her mate Kerchak and despite disapproval from her friends and mate she decides to raise the little baby as her own.
The story revolves around Tarzan, who grows up to be a brave, fun loving character who has spent his whole life in the jungle with his family of apes and known nothing else. He often feels out of place within his 'family' though since they are so very different from him. He also struggles with his "father" Kerchak who is leader of the other apes. Kerchak has trouble accepting Tarzan into the family since Tarzan is human and Kerchak naturally does not trust humans. Then one day everything changes as Tarzan encounters creatures that look like him and walk like him and speak a strange language...humans!
After getting to know them and falling in love with Jane Porter, the beautiful young daughter of a scientist who visited the jungle to search for apes, Tarzan must make a decision as to where he truly belongs. In the meantime he must also save his family from the cruel Mr. Clayton who came to the jungle as the Porters' guide but really wants to find the apes for his own evil gain.
Tarzan (Tony Goldwin)- main character
Jane (Minnie Driver)- Tarzan's love interest
Kala (Glenn Close)- Tarzans "mother"
Professor Porter (Nigel Hawthorne)- Janes father, a scientist and explorer
Clayton (Brian Blessed)- the villain who acts as a guide for Jane and her father
Terk (Rosie O Donnel)- A female ape and one of Tarzans best friends
Kerchak (Lance Henriksen)- Kalas mate which makes him Tarzans "father", leader of the group
Tantor (Wayne Knight)- A paranoid, easily frightened elephant, Tarzans other best friend.
1. Two Worlds
2. You'll Be in My Heart
3. Son of Man
4. Trashin' the Camp
5. Strangers Like Me
(The songs were all performed by the talented Phil Collins)
What I thought:
I thought the movie was brilliant. I loved it when I was young and I still love it. There are no really violent scenes so that's a plus for children to watch. The characters are engaging, the music is phenomenal and it's downright hilarious at certain points. All in all it's an engaging story and there's never a boring moment. A great movie to watch with the kids.
Erin Morgensterns debut novel, the Night Circus is truly a magical journey into a world so close to our own yet so different. I glanced at this book many times during my visits to Barnes and Noble and always found myself intrigued by the title and the cover but only recently went and purchased it. I can honestly say I'm glad I did.
The plot of the book is as follows:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway--a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love--a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Sounds magical right? Right. As soon as I was done with the first chapter of the book I was sure I would love it. With each page however the book progressively gets better and better.
Our two main characters are Celia and Marco who will be pitted against each other in a fight to the death. In addition to Celia and Marco is Hector who is Celias "instructor" (and her father) who interestingly enough becomes the victim of one of his own magic experiments gone wrong and well...you'll see :)
There's also Mr. A.H who is Marcos instructor and of course the Associates, the group of people behind the Circus. These include a theatrical producer (Chandresh Lefevre), a prime ballerina/costume designer (Mms. Anna Padva), an architect/engineer (Ethan Barris), a master clockmaker (Herr Friedrick Thiessen) and two atmosphere specialists (The Burgess sisters). Each of the aforementioned people contributed in their own way to the creation of the circus.
There are some additional characters who have their own seperate storyline in the begining which later becomes entwined with the main story.
The circus itself is like no other. Erin Morgenstern truly has a gift for creating a whole new world within those circus tents with wonders and sights one could never imagine possible from a paper dragon that breathes fire to a garden made entirely of ice to caramel apples that smell more heavenly than any caramel apple you have ever had. Often times while reading it I was reminded of another book I had only recently read "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury.
The story is not told by any one person rather it is written from the viewpoint of different characters and at certain points it is written from the readers own viewpoint. For instance when the circus comes to town Erin writes "You stand in the fading light, the scarf around your neck pulled up against the chilly evening breeze, waiting to see for yourself exactly what kind of circus only opens once the sun sets". I found these little snippets that were placed at various intervals in the book to be fascinating and I felt they added to the charm of the story.
The storyline in my opinion was great, rich in detail and alive with emotion. Morgenstern paints a wonderfully vivid picture of the circus and has the gift of being able to transport the reader into the world she has created. So when Celia or Marco would be walking on the streets of Paris I could almost see it happening in my minds eye as though I too was part of it, as though I was walking behind them with my own umbrella shielding myself from the pouring rain. I absolutely love when a book is so engaging that you're absolutely absorbed.
There is definitely a dark element to the story but it is this dark element that makes it all the more exciting and mysterious. It was the kind of story where I could not wait to find out the ending yet I could not bear to flip to the last page and see because the magic would be broken. On that note what may bother certain readers is the pace of the story is not fast, it moves along at it's own slow steady pace and often goes back and forth between years. Do not let this dissuade you however, it was not really as confusing as one would think.
My only teeny tiny complaint would be that she could have elaborated more on some of the characters, given them more depth. On the whole, I absolutely loved the book from the storyline to the style of writing to the characters themselves. It is a wonderful read, one that I read twice in a row! If you want an escape from reality and want to forget about the stresses of day to day life this is the book for you. Curl up with some cookies or tea or whatever treat your heart desires and let Erin Morgenstern take you on a magical ride :)