Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

 Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood
Illustrated by Meg Hunt
Review Copy from Chronicle Books

With Reading Beauty, Underwood and Hunt deliver yet another superb revisionist retelling of a classic fairy tale (or, as one reviewer referred to it, a "fractured feminist fairy tale.") And, as with Interstellar Cinderella, Underwood has written her tale in magnificent, mellifluous rhyme and, with her cool purple palette, Hunt has created a futuristic world with an African vibe where paper books are still relevant and beloved!

Lex is a princess who loves, REALLY loves, books. In fact, she even trains her dog Prince to fetch them for her. But, when she turns fifteen, to avoid a deadly paper cut, all her books are taken away. That's when she learns of a curse put on her by a disgruntled fairy who thought she had been shut out of Lex's birth celebration. Gathering her books, Lex decides to find the fairy and get her to reverse the curse. The fairy throws out spell after spell to stop Lex, but the princess refers to her many books, each of which gives her a method for counteracting the spells. When Prince uncovers the original invitation to the ball celebrating Lex's birth, she has an epiphany - the fairy can't read! Lex offers to teach the fairy how to read and, in her excitement, the fairy picks up a cursed book meant for Lex and promptly falls asleep. Cleverly, Prince trots over and licks face and the fairy wakes up, having been kissed by a prince... The happy ending includes the return of all of Lex's books and a job (after learning to read) as a Fairy Librarian!

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