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The Shakespeare Stories: Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet Paperback – Abridged, September 1, 2017
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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About the Author
Andrew Matthews has written numerous books for children and teenagers, and is an internationally renowned author. He wrote King Arthur and Wolf Summer for the Orchard list, as well as a series of retellings of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. Andrew has been short-listed twice for the Smarties Award. He lives in Berkshire.
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Henry the V is more than patriotism and slavish admiration for leadership. In the middle of an era when the divine right of kings was de rigueur, Shakespeare set out to establish Henry's qualifications for leadership anecdotally. So this story, while patriotic and supportive of the king, is also subtly revolutionary in that it says that Henry is a right, just, and good king, not by the will of God alone, which would hardly make for an interesting story, but because he deals rightly and just with people, first with his enemies and then with his subjects. In this way, the essential character of the story comes forth, albeit with less detail than the original work.
This treatment is the same for A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. Select story arcs from within the complete work are adapted in such a way as to be complete and enjoyable works in themselves while suggesting the themes of the complete work, with help from essays providing some of the historical and literary context for the stories.
These are all very well told, 4 out of 5 for solid execution and really good storytelling, not perfect because of the nagging sense of incompleteness. Do read and share this collection of stories with your family, but don't settle for the Cliff Notes version indefinitely. Follow up with a reading or performance of the original plays, or at least a longer treatment of these works.
Matthews manages to take some of the most plot-heavy and confusing Shakespeare plays and break them down to their most basic elements. The language is easy to follow without lacking intellect or wit, and he stays true to Shakespeare’s concepts and characters. Illustrated short stories for kids are a no-brainer for getting children interested in William Shakespeare, and Matthews was smart to dive into the genre. He isn’t reinventing the wheel, but he is making the wheel accessible to a wide range of audiences.
I like how it has pictures, gives the cast and a quote from the original play. Then it tells the story and finishes up with an explanation of what just happened and some history of Shakespeare and the play.
I received this ARC from Printers Row Publishing Group and Silver Dolphin Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.