Thursday, 18 June 2015

William Shakespeare: Scenes from the life of the world's greatest writer by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

William Shakespeare

Written by Mick Manning
Illustrated by Brita Granstrom

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

This was always going to be a tough sell to me, this book. I have a horrible confession to make you see. Aside from a passing love of King Lear and a tiny smidge of awe for "The Tempest", I'm definitely not a Shakespeare fan. BUT Charlotte is and we're both history nuts, which is quite fortunate because the masterful author-illustrator team of Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom have blown our minds with their unique and passionate way of looking at historical times, places and figures (check out their fabulous "The Story of Britain" to see what we mean).

So can an old Shakespeare-cynic be won over by this gorgeous tome? You bet! Mick and Brita take us from the very early life of Will Shakespeare (I tried to do the whole "Shakespeare died on the day he was born" thing with Charlotte, to no avail).

Will's inquisitive mind and thirst for knowledge was tempered at an early age by a mischievous streak (caught red handed poaching and was very lucky not to lose his hands - or his head - in those days!) but always with an eye on the stage. First, with ambitions to become an actor and later to become the playwright we all know (and some of us love!)

We found ourselves completely immersed and drawn into this book. Mick and Brita weave Shakespeare's legend well, and the book is gloriously illustrated with scenes from his life and from Britain at the time of the bard. Liberally dosed with quotes from Shakespeare's best loved works, and with potted synopses of some of his most brilliant plays and sonnets, this is absolutely THE best place to start for youngsters who are just starting out on the path of discovery of Britain's most famous wordsmith.

If I'd had a book like this when I was younger, I'd have found a love for Shakespeare a lot earlier. You know what, miracles really can happen after all because I'm itching to go and re-read our dusty old collected works through again now to see what I've been missing out on all these years.

Charlotte's best bit: Learning all about Ariel and Caliban from The Tempest, and giggling at Shakespeare's grand speeches before dispatching poor calves in his father's glovemaking business

Daddy's Favourite bit: An utterly fascinating and absorbing look at William Shakespeare's life, locations, loves and of course his greatest works. This is utterly fantastic!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Frances Lincoln Children's Books)