Reading Beauty (Deborah Underwood)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Reading Beauty, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt, another futuristic fairy tale from the pair behind Interstellar Cinderella.

Princess Lex loves reading more than almost anything in the world. Any book of any size, any subject, any length – she’ll devour its contents eagerly before picking up the next title. So when she wakes the morning of her 15th birthday to find every book in the kingdom being packed away, she is aghast! Demanding an explanation from her parents, they tell her the story of the celebration of her birth, an evil fairy who was incensed about being uninvited, and a treacherous curse that will be brought on by a paper cut in her fifteenth year. Bereft in a world without books – and seeing how their disappearance has negatively impacted her kingdom as well – Lex decides to fight the curse herself, using the most powerful weapon at her disposal: knowledge.

Marvelous! Once again, Underwood and Hunt have taken a familiar fairy tale and infused it with both futuristic pizzaz and a strong feminist message. Clever tweaks made to the story both pay homage to the original while giving it a much-needed update; Lex’s “prince”, for instance, is her loyal and trusty dog, Prince. The art is phenomenal, and Hunt’s Afro-futurist environments and details make this an even more inclusive treat (a particularly lovely visual in which Lex’s father does her hair to comfort her as her mother explains the curse was my favorite). The length was perfect, and rhyming text was clever and fun to read aloud, and JJ loved it. A wonderful girl-power story for any young book-lover, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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