After encountering a fearsome beast at a mysterious palace, down-on-his-luck merchant Marco is forced to make a promise in exchange for his life: he must persuade one of his three daughters to return to the palace in his place – but she must come of her own free will.
Beautiful, kind-hearted Belle agrees at once to return to the palace, and there she and the Beast exist companionably, with the Beast asking of Belle the same question at the end of each day: “Dearest Belle, will you marry me?”
After a return home to consult with her father, Belle resolves to follow her heart and return to the Beast, but her plans are thwarted by the trickery of her jealous sisters. When, at last, Belle is able to find her way back to the palace, she finds her beloved Beast lying as still as death on the ground. As Belle’s tears fall on his face, the Beast is transformed into a handsome prince – the ancient spell upon him broken by Belle’s tears of true love…
This is a captivating retelling of the nation’s favourite fairy tale, from the nation’s favourite storyteller, Michael Morpurgo. Illustrator Loretta Schauer is a fresh and exciting new talent and winner of the 2012 Watersones Picture This competition.