Tina Packer, President and Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company theater and theater education group, brings ten of Shakespeare's most popular works to (abbreviated) life in this big, gorgeous hardcover volume. She retells the plays in a coherent style, incorporating paraphrases of some of the better-known lines for authentic flavor: "Is this a dagger which I see before me
); "Ingratitude, more hideous in a child than in the sea monster
" (King Lear
). Each of the ten tragedies and comedies is magnificently illustrated (one illustration per play) by an award-winning artist, including Mary GrandPre
, Leo and Diane Dillon
, Kadir Nelson
, Chesley McLaren
, and others. A lengthy and interesting introduction provides useful context for readers new to the Elizabethan world of Shakespeare.
Ideally, this book will serve as a lush introduction to the Bard for children who will go on to read--and better understand--the classic plays in their entirety. It sure beats Cliffs Notes. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Mix the intricacies of Shakespeare's plots and his poetic language with illustrations by award-winning artists and the result is a treasure trove of well-told tales. In these adaptations, Packer captures the essence of the playwright's words and ideas, placing them in concise and clearly told stories. A nine-page introductory essay presents basic biographical facts. The tales-five each of the Bard's best-known comedies and tragedies-begin with a short introduction to explain the basic thesis of the play, followed by a list of "Main Players," and a skillful 13- to 15-page prose retelling. The narrative consists mostly of short, declarative sentences that cut right to the heart of the plot, but the interweaving of numerous pertinent lines of dialogue helps to keep the poetic flavor of the original. Each retelling is accompanied by a full-page opening illustration, and a small detailed painting highlights the conclusion. The styles vary from Barry Moser's foreboding black-and-white scratchboard portrait of Macbeth to Barbara McClintock's detailed view of the Forest of Arden to P. J. Lynch's impressionistic watercolor rendering of the ghost of King Hamlet. The quality is always excellent. Each illustrator sets the appropriate tone for and conveys the mood of the tale, and the breadth of artistic interpretations gives the book appeal to a wide audience. These versions are fuller and the choice of vocabulary more suited to American audiences than that found in E. Nesbit's The Best of Shakespeare
(Oxford, 1999). This handsome volume will provide youngsters with a clear understanding of the basis of the plays before they approach the original scripts.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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