Review | 20 Shakespeare Children’s Stories
When Boolino got in touch and asked me to review Sweet Cherry Publishing’s 20 Shakespeare Children’s Stories collection I actually squealed. You see, I’m a bit of a Shakespeare geek, and any opportunity I get to read the stories, especially in a way I can share with others, is a good day!
There’s 20 books in total, covering the Comedies and Tragedies. It includes some of the most famous like Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello, through to the lesser known Timon of Athens and Cymbeline. They come in a fab little box, each with a different coloured spine and lovely gold lettering.
I grabbed the story I know and love the best – Much Ado About Nothing – and dove right in. The illustrations are lovely, cartoony line drawings – I’d be tempted to colour them in with some crayons!
Aimed at children aged 9+
They are aimed at children aged 9+, but the language is mostly simple enough for younger readers and pre-readers to understand. There are a few harder words or turns of phrase in there, but they don’t confuse the story. And the font is big and clear with nice spacing.
I love the concept of these books – reading Shakespeare can be a daunting prospect but breaking the story down into simple language can really help people to discover his wonderful storytelling.
I did have a few issues though – there are actions in the plays attributed to the wrong character, or characters doing things that don’t actually happen (I did warn you, Shakespeare geek…) which although it reads fine may confuse readers later on if they come to study the plays. That said, they have managed to deal with the more adult and sometimes violent content of the plays in a way that doesn’t detract from the story but won’t need lots of explanation for younger minds!
Along those lines, I was surprised to find Taming of the Shrew in there. Yes it is a classic story but one with content that’s controversial in modern society, and one that would need a lot of explaining to younger readers – perhaps it would be handy to have some “for grownups” sections at the back to help answer any questions. Importantly, it does have most of the stories generally covered in the National Curriculum, such as Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, so they would make fantastic teaching tools, or even tools to help parents understand what their children are studying if they’re not familiar with them.
Great Introduction to Shakespeare
I’m excited to introduce X to more Shakespeare – he enjoyed the CBeebies A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year – but these books are probably a bit long for him at the moment (for the chap who coined the phrase “Brevity is the soul of wit” Shakespeare does like to go on a bit…), although I think he’d handle the language quite well.
Overall this is a great collection of stories, and would be a wonderful addition to any book loving child’s bookshelf.