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Little Beauty


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About the Author

Anthony Browne, a Hans Christian Andersen Medalist, is the author-illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including SILLY BILLY. He lives in Kent, England.


Inspired by the story of Koko, the sign-language-fluent gorilla, and her pet kitten, Browne (Voices in the Park) imagines a similar interspecies friendship. His nameless signing gorilla seems to have everything he needs: a comfy chair (the upholstery looks positively Pierre Deux), a TV and a cheeseburger, but something is not right: the look on his face screams, "Is that all there is?" His ennui evaporates, however, with the arrival of a tiny kitten named Beauty. "They did everything together," Browne notes on one of the funny, touching spreads that ensue; in this particular case, he shows that these BFFs can't be separated even when nature calls. Playing with scale and perspective, continually recalibrating the level of detail (on some closeups, the individual hairs of the gorilla's fur coat are distinct), imbuing his simian hero with a range of emotion worthy of a young Marlon Brando, Browne creates an unpredictable visual vocabulary in sync with the unlikely but enduring affection between Beauty and beast. Ages 3-5. (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

PreS-Gr 3-This reworking of the classic tale of a beast transformed by unconditional love depicts the protagonist as a lumbering gorilla and Beauty as a petite cat. A red rose on the title page hints at what's to come. But wait! Alert readers will recognize this relationship, these very poses: here are Hanabi-Ko and All Ball from the real-life story of the sensitive, signing gorilla described by Francine Patterson in Koko's Kitten (Scholastic, 1985). Browne melds fact and fiction into a story that reads simply, but offers layers. Luscious, creamy pages provide contrast for the large, well-spaced font and the dark, furry figure that often bleeds off the page. Watercolor and pencil renderings capture the animal in moments of profound loneliness and extreme anger; he reacts to King Kong by smashing the TV in a page red with rage. Zookeepers fear for Beauty's safety, but her surprising intervention saves the day. Children will chuckle as they view the pair doing everything together, from using the bathroom to swinging from the lamp, like the mythical figure flying too close to the sun. (Bruegel's Fall of Icarus hangs in the background.) Browne's exquisite interpretation of a real-life gorilla is a welcome progression.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

The illustrations express clear emotion in this perfect read for young children about friendship.
-Columbus Dispatch

Extraordinary pencil and watercolor illustrations brilliantly depict the emotions of a lonely gorilla.
-Library Media Connection

No one renders primates with more faithful detail or surreal humanity than Browne.
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Exquisitely detailed art that blends magic and realism.

A sweet quirky story of a deep and unlikely friendship enhanced by emotionally evocative art.
-San Francisco Chronicle

Luscious, creamy pages provide contrast for the large, well-spaced font and the dark furry figure... Children will chuckle as they view the pair doing everything together ...Browne's exquisite interpretation of a real life gorilla is a welcome progression.
-School Library Journal (starred review)

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