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Grade 1-4–When the students in Ms. Juliet's school read more than 10,000 books, she must fulfill her promise to kiss a pig. The young narrator offers her porcine pet, Hamlet, who isn't looking forward to smooching a stranger. Displayed in thought balloons over Hamlet's head are Shakespeare-inspired verses that express his initial dismay and eventual change of heart. These quotes, along with the lines that inspired them and a brief biography of the Bard, are listed at the end of the book. The conversational text is prone to excessive plot exposition, giving the story a very slow pace. The authors fail to impart a feeling of excitement as the big day draws near, so the climax falls flat. DiRocco's colorful watercolor illustrations highlight the most important moments and help bring the tale to life. His depiction of Hamlet dressed in 17th-century attire adds to the mood. Attempting to introduce children to Shakespeare in the guise of a verse-quoting pig is a novel idea. Unfortunately, this is a mediocre story that is hindered rather than helped by its allusions to the playwright. Younger audiences won't understand the references, while older readers will be put off by the book's format. For a better introduction, try Marcia Williams's Tales from Shakespeare (Candlewick, 1998).–Catherine Callegari, San Antonio Public Library, TX
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Gr. 4-5. Who is the audience for this Shakespeare parody in picture-book form? It's a tough call. The school principal, Ms. Juliet, promises to kiss a pig if the students read lots of books. Hamlet, a little girl's pet pig, isn't happy when his owner volunteers him for the kiss: "O, heavy heart, do not weep. / This kiss has murdered sleep." Then he sees Ms. Juliet and falls in love: "I never saw true beauty / Till this day." Preschoolers will enjoy the slapstick, but they obviously won't have a clue about the Shakespeare jokes. Older children, however, will be disarmed by the humor, which may make this useful for helping students feel more relaxed about the Bard and his Elizabethan English. A guide at the back provides references to the plays and to the quotes. Hazel Rochman
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Great book for a kick off to a school read-a-thon. This is cute story with silliness that appeals to children ages 5-10.Published on June 5, 2013 by Patricia A. Pora
I purchased this book for our assistant-principal who had just been named as a principal. It is a light-hearted book perfect for the occasion!Published on June 10, 2008 by Elementary teacher
Carl DiRocco illustrates the rollicking story of a principal who promises to kiss a pig if his students read lots of books. Read morePublished on May 14, 2005 by Midwest Book Review
The world of children has been waiting for Hamlet, the pig, to introduce them to
Shakespeare in this humorous, intelligent and endearing book.