I always love a good Beauty and the Beast story!
How much better the beauty and the beast theme is than that of the ugly duckling! I hated The Ugly Duckling so much that I banned it from my kids’ bookshelf. That’s right, I’m a book censor. In The Ugly Duckling, the little so-called duck’s mother doesn’t love him because he’s ugly and different from her other children. Then when he matures into a beautiful, graceful swan he is forgiven for being ugly and she decides to love him after all. Could you think of a worse story to tell children?
Thankfully, Melanie Dickerson went with the beauty and the beast theme. In this version, set in 1352 Medieval England, a merchant’s family has fallen on hard times. Annabel (in true fairy tale manner) is the only one of her family with any honor or integrity. So when the family is close to being expelled from their home for non-payment of taxes, she indentures herself to Ranulf, the beastly new lord of Glynval, to work off the debt.
Ranulf, who bears ugly scars and a deformed arm, is of course, no beast at all, but a wonderful wounded hero. The relationship between Ranulf and Annabel of earthly lord and servant beautifully parallels that of the Heavenly Lord and His people. Their love for one another develops when Ranulf offers Annabel the one thing she has always dreamed of: the chance to actually hold and read the Holy Bible. Even the local priest doesn’t own a copy, and he preaches a warped, misogynistic version of the Scriptures. But when Annabel reads the Bible for herself, its beautiful message of faith and hope transform their lives.
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