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Tales from Shakespeare Hardcover – August 5, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 55 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-6-The success of Williams's Greek Myths for Young Children (Candlewick, 1992) is no surprise to those whose first exposure to the classics through "Classic Comics" led to a comfortable and even enthusiastic view of literature. The lively cartoon format never overwhelms the clear progress of the stories. While the technique used in her latest book may boggle the mind of a struggling adult, it should be child's play to average elementary-school readers. Each of the seven selections, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, Julius Caesar, Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest, is told as if it were on a stage, with cartoon panels carrying the actions and direct quotations from the play. The author's narration appears below the panels. An audience surrounds this presentation on three sides of each page. Not only are the stories complex and multilayered, but the byplay in the audience also further complicates these busy pages. As Hamlet struggles with his decision, orange sellers work a crowd that comments irreverently on the play. Queen Elizabeth I and Will himself appear at more than one production. Macbeth, which has a relatively simple story line, is told in larger panels and is not as hard to follow. The Winter's Tale is also not badly served by this treatment, although it's disappointing to find the most cartoonish stage direction in all of Shakespeare, "Exit, pursued by a bear," omitted. While it's hard to imagine anyone except maybe Robin Williams taking this on as a read-aloud, the kids who pore over detail in "Waldo" or Graeme Base's Animalia (Abrams, 1993) may graduate to enjoying an introduction to the plays in this format.
Sally Margolis, Barton Public Library, VT
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Williams uses the oversize, comic strip format of her King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1996) and other picture books to evoke a sense of what it must have been like to attend performances of seven plays at the old Globe Theatre. As the actors stand in running panels atop prose plot summaries, declaiming well-chosen lines from the plays, in the borders men, women, and children of all ages (including, for sharp-eyed viewers, Queen Elizabeth and the Bard himself) watch, laugh, weep, shout smart comments, and fool around. Although watery gray backgrounds give Macbeth and parts of Hamlet a gloomy cast, the mood in general is boisterous: Juliet sprawls fetchingly on her balcony rail; donkey-headed Bottom curls a bespelled Titania's toes; one viewer bids a rowdy youth, "Buzz off," and another, seeing Macbeth waving a pair of gory daggers, opines, "I don't think this is quite suitable for children." On the contrary, although the names and plot twists may sometimes come too fast for some readers to keep straight, this offers an inviting taste of the Shakespearean buffet, as well as a rare glimpse into the character of Elizabethan theater. John Peters

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
55 customer ratings
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Top international reviews

Bradley Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely intro to Shakespeare for kids
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 4, 2018
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Blanche Cruickshank
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2016
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Gayle Jervis
4.0 out of 5 stars ... read this book to her often which is a good indicator of how good this book is
Reviewed in Canada on September 9, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Approach to teaching Shakespeare to Primary Students
Reviewed in Canada on August 6, 2018
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Alethia Sanson F
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelente título.
Reviewed in Mexico on June 10, 2017
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niloufer
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
Reviewed in India on July 31, 2015
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Cathy Gill
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Tells the stories but loses the magic of ...
Reviewed in Canada on May 25, 2015
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Mme DGR
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy but
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 8, 2013
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Cate Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 22, 2015
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 5, 2014
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