Fairy tales are naturally non-mathematical. That is a fact, and fifteen-year-old Lily Sparrow loves factual, mathematical logic. So when her mother confesses that Lily’s deceased father is (a) not dead, (b) coming to dinner, and (c) the ruler of a fairy tale kingdom accessible through the upstairs bathtub, Lily clings to her math to help her make sense of this new double life (1 life in the real world + 1 secret life in the fairy tale world = a double life).
Even though it’s not mathematical, Lily finds herself being pulled into a mystery involving an unhappy Cinderella, a greasy sycophant called Levi, and a slew of vanishing fairy tale characters. Racing against the clock, with a sound mathematical plan, Lily attempts to save her fairy tale friends while proving that normality = happiness.
Why I Heart Beauty and the Beast
Everyone’s got a favorite fairy tale and mine is Beauty and the Beast. There are a lot of reasons this tale could be my favorite, but the truth is there’s only one reason that it is my favorite.
It is not my favorite because I watched 31 days in a row in the seventh grade. We got the Disney version as a Christmas gift and my sister made watching it every single day her New Year’s resolution for 1993. We made it through January. Then I think my dad hid the tape. But hiding the tape could not make me forget all the words to the songs (Little town, such a quiet village…).
It is not my favorite because of all the books in that Disney version. Although I do really like books and including them made the Disney version awesome.
It’s not even my favorite because Beauty’s dad finds a hidden castle in the woods that is perpetually in summer. (I’ve switched from the Disney version to the original version now.) Who wouldn’t love to find a hidden castle/civilization/world in the woods? Or behind the neighbors’ really tall fence. Or in the refrigerator. Also the ability to control the weather would be nice.
It’s not my favorite because the Beast demands that one of the dad’s daughters (he has six) come and take his place for the crime of stealing a rose. That’s crazy. But I do like that the Beast made sure whoever came to him would be coming willingly. He wants to make sure she’s brave and that she has a good character, willing to sacrifice herself for her dad. The Beast has standards. (Although his fastidiousness about the roses is a bit extreme…)
It’s not even my favorite because Beauty sacrificed herself for her father and her family. That’s something I love about this tale and I draw from this element in The Cinderella Theorem. A lot of fairy tales have heroines where something unfortunate happens to them. They are just sort of helpless against their fate and then things get better. Beauty already had a good (not great) life. She already had her “better” and she chose to make her life worse so someone else’s would be better.
But the reason this is my favorite fairy tale and that I heart it—and you should too—is that they don’t fall in love instantly. They don’t fall in love because he found her shoe or kissed her awake. They get to know each other. And yes, he does weirdly ask her to marry him every night, but after she says no (each night), they talk and become friends. They learned how to communicate and respect each other.
Beauty and the Beast is a good picture of what it takes to make a relationship work. You need time, courage, commitment and the willingness to put the needs of the other first. Also, if one of you has a hidden castle in the woods full of gold, it won’t hurt.
About the author:
Kristee Ravan lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter, and pet fish, Val (short for Valentine). She wanted to be many things as she grew up including a general, an artist, and an architect. But she never bothered to say, "I want to be a writer when I grow up." She was always writing stories and thought of herself as a writer anyway. She sent her first story to a publisher in the sixth grade. (It was rejected - in a nice way.)
When she is not making up stories in her head, she enjoys reading, juggling, green smoothies, playing dollhouse with her daughter, and hearing from her fans. You can contact Kristee at the facebook page for her Lily Sparrow books: The Lily Sparrow Chronicles.