Claire and the Beast

Common fables and fairy tales oftentimes follow the same common themes and offer the same common lessons. Hard work pays off. Slow and steady wins the race. Dreams really do come true. But what if you were to take one of these common lessons and turn it on its head? That’s exactly what happens with Claire and the Beast. It’s not the little girl who is afraid of the dark; it’s the monster who is afraid of the light.

Written and illustrated by Joel Bernard, Claire and the Beast offers a unique twist. We start off with an old man who has no friends, so he concocts a potion in hopes of fixing that problem. Unfortunately for him, the potion turns him into the unsightly beast seen above. He proceeds to lurk in the shadows, feed on the fear of children, and avoid the light. He then encounters a brave little girl named Claire who shows him that there is nothing to fear and that he can be loved.

It’s a relatively simple story about transformation and shifting perspectives. Everything is written in rhyming couplets, offering a good rhythm for a bedtime story, though I found some of the couplets were a little more awkward than others. The art style, as you can see from the image above, is decidedly original in its approach. The visuals are at once dark and colorful, just like the tale they illustrate. They almost have a cel-shaded appearance to them.

From the perspective of the bedtime story, I would have preferred if all the words were white for ease of legibility. It’s also a little bit too long for my almost one-year-old daughter, but I can see how this picture book about facing and overcoming your fears would be more appropriate for children around 4 or 5 years of age. Just like Made by Raffi, Claire and the Beast teaches an important life lesson in a fun and colorful way.

Claire and the Beast

Claire and the Beast is available for purchase on Amazon in your choice of paperback, hardcover and Kindle formats. If you’ve got a kid who’s afraid of the dark or needs to conquer any other fear, this is a great little read.