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The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth Hardcover – September 30, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—With its gruesome murders, Macbeth might not seem the most obvious of Shakespeare's plays to be adapted into a children's graphic novel, but by placing the play as a story within a story, Lender and Giallongo make it work. The animals of Stratford Zoo are putting on a show— specifically Macbeth—starring the lion as the play's titular hero and featuring a hyena and a cast of other animals to fill out the ranks. A sanitized version of the drama is told while the animal audience makes quips, provides commentary, and hides from the zookeeper. Naturally, a child-friendly, zoo animal-filled version of the tragic play wanders a great deal from the original. The additions and changes (such as Macbeth eating the king with copious amounts of ketchup) serve to make the tale and the entire graphic novel a comic affair that will appeal to younger readers. All of the violence is offstage and only hinted at, not depicted, in keeping with the younger audience envisioned for this book. The artwork is bright and cartoonish, with an appealing mix of panel sizes to keep the story moving, emphasize key points, and allow for amusing little details for readers to find. Perhaps the greatest missed opportunity is that only a few times do the animal thespians use lines from the original Shakespeare and these times are not marked as such. Other than that flaw, here is a delightful introduction to the Bard's work that won't overwhelm young readers.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK
“. . . a wonderfully accessible, engaging, and kid-friendly adaptation of the Shakespeare classic.” ―Booklist
“. . . a comic affair that will appeal to younger readers.” ―School Library Journal
“*As the zookeeper locks the gates to the Stratford Zoo, the animals are just beginning to set up for their evening performance of Macbeth . . . Those too young to appreciate the original play will certainly grasp this cleverly anthropomorphized, lushly envisioned graphic romp.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This kid-friendly retelling of Macbeth is vibrant and funny. Artist Zack Giallongo (BROXO) delivers bright art with creative use of panels and frequent side gags. Author Ian Lendler distills Macbeth to its essence and adds a bit of ketchup. The frame story, of the other animals reacting to the play, inject some humor to the tragedy, which is a great way to keep the younger audience interested.
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays and THE STRATFORD ZOO MIDNIGHT REVUE PRESENTS MACBETH does it plenty of justice, even if it is an irreverent take. All of the famous moments are translated, even though the page count is quite lean.
I thought THE STRATFORD ZOO MIDNIGHT REVUE PRESENTS MACBETH was absolutely hilarious and charming. I certainly hope it is the beginning of a series of graphic adaptations of Shakespeare. It's a crowded field, but this effort stands out.
This is not your traditional performance of Macbeth; really, "The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Macbeth" is unlike any version I’ve ever encountered before. And I mean that in the best way possible; this clever little retelling is funny and imaginative, and the illustrations really make it sparkle. This graphic novel would be a fantastic way to introduce a younger audience to this classic story, but adults are sure to enjoy every page too.
Review originally published on "San Francisco Book Review."
One of the things that I struggled the most with in school was reading plays. Any play, but Shakespearean plays were always the worst. I had trouble figuring out which character was speaking, how scenes fit together, and words always got jumbled in my head. It was only when I discovered graphic novel adaptations of the plays did things really start to click for me, and after reading this adaptation I really wish I had, had this version to read! It captures the classic story well, but adds some additional humor and asides to the audiences that make the play even more fun. Ian has done a great job of adapting Macbeth so its enjoyable for all ages and making the characters into animals. Macduff is a noir detective stork. Lady Macduff is a cheetah, who can’t quite get the spots out. The witches try to help their colleague perfect her evil cackle (she tries everything else first...including a nice Santa laugh.) While Ian does tone down some of the darker aspects of the play, given that the book is for younger readers, he captures its essence and message perfectly.
I’ve been a huge fan of Zach Giallongo’s art since his previous First Second book, Broxo, and his illustrations in this book made me fall even more in love with his art. While Ian crafts the perfect words for his characters, Zach brings them to life, capturing their expressions and movements perfectly. Macbeth, a regal looking lion, moves with ease, but as he eats more and more animals, he begins to waddle and his belly extends and Zach captures it with ease. My favorite character though has to be Macduff the stork. Depicted in a trench coat and a fedora (I really wonder whose idea that was?) captures the essence of Macduff as a detective so well that I’m going to have a hard time imagining Macduff as anything else from now on. Zach should also be commended, along with Ian, for making the more violent acts of the play into something a bit more cartoony with squirting ketchup substituting for blood and well placed animals blocking the view when needed.
If you’re looking for a literary analysis or think that Shakespeare has no humor, please look elsewhere. On the other hand if you’re looking for something fun to introduce Shakespeare to younger readers, 5th grade and up, forge ahead! Older readers will enjoy the humor and new look at Macbeth as well. In fact, I think this book would work perfectly in a high school setting, helping students understand that Shakespeare does have humor to it, and that it can be fun and enjoyable to read. I give the book four out of five stars.
PS: I hear that a second volume is in the works, this time based upon Romeo and Juliet. I can’t wait!
Review copy provided by Gina at First Second