Hands up if you're planning on taking your little Beauty and the Beast fans to see the new live action movie remake during the Easter holidays ! It's definitely the most talked about movie of the moment and so far, it seems to be living up to the hype, with movie-goers of all ages apparently completely enchanted by the new version.
Parragon have some lovely tie-in books to continue the magic for tweens and teens, one to encourage creativity and imagination and the other as a Twisted Tale, a parallel-universe version of the story we all know and love. We were delighted to receive copies of both to check them out.
Beauty and The Beast Write, Inspire, Create is completely different to any other book that we've ever encountered and we absolutely loved the concept. Juliette described it as a more grown up version of an activity book, which is a pretty good way to describe it.
The book contains 160 pages of creative writing prompts and guided writing activities to encourage even the most reluctant writers to put their literacy skills and their imagination to the test.
Some of the activities are quite simple and very structured, focusing on vocabulary, to build up your word skills before moving on to the creative writing tasks.
Others give you freer reign, inviting you to create a new song, rewrite the beginning with a twist or fill in Belle's diary.
The tasks themselves are fun and entertaining, and the large colourful illustrations dotted throughout the pages and the use of different fonts add to the book's appeal.
It's not just about writing though - other activities involve pressing out pieces to construct a dice or getting your artistic juices flowing by creating a cover design.
As well as making you think about what goes into a book (a beginning, middle and end, characters, cover, vocabulary, ...), the book also makes you get inside the characters' heads, viewing things from their perspective and trying to understand their viewpoints and feelings. This is all part of critical literacy, which is a huge priority in education at the moment - my week in Norway last month was precisely looking at ways to help children across Europe develop these kinds of skills. I'll be able to use this book to inspire some new ideas for classroom strategies for the research project.
As a teacher, I spend a lot of my time trying to think up fun and engaging ways to get kids interested in reading and writing, and this book is packed full of ideas that could be exploited both in the classroom and also at home. The best thing is, Juliette had the distinct impression that she was having fun rather then honing her literacy skills - bonus !
The second book is one of the Twisted Tale series - you may remember we reviewed A Whole New World which is an alternative version of Aladdin. In As Old As Time, we get to explore a whole new way that the Beauty and The Beast story could have unfolded in a parallel universe.
This is a full-on reading book that will appeal to keen readers (tweens if they enjoy reading, teens and adults) and especially those who are already familiar with the original version of the story. It all starts off the same as the well-known story, but key events will turn out differently, making the story spiral off into a whole new direction. Characters are developed in unexpected ways and I found the tone to be darker and slightly more unnerving than the Disney film versions.
This concept of taking a popular, universally known story and changing the plot and/or characters so that it ends up completely different is another classroom activity that we worked on in Norway - we had to imagine a different version or interpretation of a fairy story and our group turned Goldilocks into a serial burglar and house wrecker, with the disgruntled Three Bears making their statement to the police.
It's an enjoyable read and also a great way of broadening your mind and imagination, allowing for the fact that there can be alternative versions and viewpoints to even the most well-known stories.
for more information, head over to the Parragon website :
Disclosure : We received the books in order to write an honest review.