Friday, 28 September 2018

ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th September 2018: "A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories" by Angela McAllister and Alice Lindstrom (Lincoln Children's Books)

It's sometimes amusing how Book of the Week winners can arrive for review just as we're discussing their particular topic on Twitter...
...almost as if The Matrix is toying with us.

There's recently been quite the debate on how Shakespeare is taught in schools, and a lot of people my age can categorically state that they were completely 'turned off' The Bard at an early age, mostly through the rather listless and "Oh if we have to" attitude to Shakespeare on the National Curriculum.

So thank goodness for books like "A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories" by Angela McAllister and Alice Lindstrom.

Here's a book that performs an amazing hoop leap of not only making Shakespeare's plays and stories appealing to children, but also gathers together a ton of facts about the man himself, his timeline and some more in-depth information on his life, times and of course his work.

...And there was me always misquoting this scene as "Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble!"
The main appeal here though is in the way Angela has brought some of the greatest works of Shakespeare fully up to date by turning them into amazing little potted kid-friendly versions of the plays themselves, complete with Alice's utterly stunning artwork that adds to the atmosphere and the immersive nature of each tale.

We're first introduced to the characters, and a taste of the plot before the story proper begins.

Not just a board game!
Purists may argue that removing a lot of the 'classic' language somehow strips Shakespeare's work of what makes it so unique and worthy of study, but in my own experience - and the experience of so many friends and folk I know on Twitter and in the real world, the very thing that put them off Shakespeare was the dry delivery in solid monologue of the original texts, robbed of their character, their quirkiness and in some cases their delightful comedy.

Without a doubt, the Bard's works are hugely important - not just as an aid to those who want to more deeply immerse themselves in studying English Literature and Language, but as a vital insight into the life and times of Shakespeare himself, and the moral lessons and fables contained in his works that have huge relevance and appeal today too.

This is stunning work. If your child is similarly stricken with "Bard-o-Phobia" this may well be the cure in book form.

C's best bit: Recognising the character she played in her summer drama workshop of Macbeth (Macduff!)

Daddy's favourite bit: We've seen a lot of brilliant attempts to make Shakespeare more accessible and acceptable to kids, this is definitely one of the best we've seen yet. Utterly brilliant, wish I'd had this at school!

(Kindly supplied for review).

"A Stage full of Shakespeare Stories" by Angela McAllister and Alice Lindstrom is out now, published by Lincoln Children's Books (kindly supplied for review).