From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up–This handsome biography, designed as a scrapbook that Shakespeare kept for his daughter Judith, is presented as "a recollection of his years and works…upon the eve of his departure from London to retirement in Stratford-upon-Avon." The portfoliolike volume is filled with facsimiles of documents, writings of Shakespeare's contemporaries, and synopses of his plays, all helping to piece together the facts of his life and the mores of the day. The "autobiographical" writing is laced with vocabulary that captures the flavor of the period, while the authors' informational sidebars use straightforward, clear prose to complement the flowing narrative. Historical details abound, not only in the text but also in the carefully selected "documents" that adorn the book, permitting readers to pore over everything from Elizabethan "Child-Rearing Advice" to period "Siege Engines" to a "Glossary" of types of thieves. While the basic facts of any well-written Shakespearean biography can be found here, this work also discusses his opinions of his friends and rivals, reveals his deep feelings, and conveys misgivings about some of his life choices. Abundant humor, quotes from Shakespeare's works, and some lesser-known facts add interest to the familiar story. Illustratively, the book is a feast for the eye, with backgrounds composed of high-quality period prints, paintings and sketches, and numerous fold-out facsimiles that pop out from the double-sided pages. Berk and McDermott offer a new perspective on the bard–that of the aged genius looking back on his life and career. Shakespeare lovers and teachers will be delighted.Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL
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"Look no further than this excellent book... never a dull moment. The pleasure of opening letters and lifting flaps... makes it perfect for dipping into or reading from cover to cover."
--Carousel: The Guide to Children's Books
"A handsome and lavishly illustrated introduction to Shakespeare's life...well designed to bring insight and pleasure to readers of all ages."
--David Bevington, Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago
"This smart, gorgeous and lively scrapbook will wake many young minds (and older ones too) to the world behind Shakespeare's plays."
--Robert N. Watson, Distinguished Professor in the department of English at UCLA.Winner of the School Library Association's CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD for best overall non-fiction book for the UK in 2010.