Friday, July 22, 2022

Today's read... Shakespeare's Tales Retold for Children by Samantha Newman

 I was very excited to get my hands on today's read...or should I say reads? It's a collection of sixteen of Shakespeare's works, and each one has been rewritten with the lower end of the middle grade audience in mind. Think chapter book level. I'll admit that I found Shakespeare pretty unexciting, when I was in high school...although it was fun listening to my classmates play the words (let's just say that a few of them had an awesome sense of humor). But bringing this all down to a level young readers understand is quite the task. So, of course, I was curious to take a peek and see how this box set pulls that off.

Grab And let's dive into some classics!

Retold for Children
by Samantha Newman
Illustrated by Ceej Rowland
Arcturus Publishing
Middle Grade Classics
1024 pages
ages 7 to 12

JULY 30th!!!

This beautifully illustrated box set brings the Bard's timeless tales to life for a younger generation, with wit and panache. Samantha Newman's cleverly reworked text retains many of Shakespeare's own inimitable turns of phrase, while simplifying and clarifying the language and plots to make stories accessible to children. Perfect for children aged 7+.

Stories include:
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Romeo and Juliet
- Comedy of Errors
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Othello
- Macbeth
- The Tempest
- And many more!



With modern, young readers in mind, Shakespeare's works are rewoven and peppered with inviting illustrations, while still remaining true to the original tales.

Shakespeare isn't exactly an easy tackle for modern day teens, let alone middle graders. This collection attempts to take many of Shakespeare's works (sixteen in total), rewrite them, and make them accessible for ages 7 and up. Not only does the author accomplish this, but she does it well.

This collection steers clear from the original play format (something which bothered me, at first, but then, works out nicely) and takes on the usual, story form. The text is easy to read and especially a good fit for the lower half of the intended age group...much like a chapter book. While the scenes stick to the original locations and time frames, the wording is modern and flows smoothly. Descriptions are kept to a minimum, as is usual at this reading level, and anything which would need more explanation, happens in a way which flows right in with the story...and that in very short form. Even the dialogue comes across naturally. And all of it, still keeps to the original tales, just in a simpler and more age appropriate manner.

None of the stories hold new twists or embellishments, and they don't need it. Hamlett still has his ghosts, Romeo still has sword fights, and so on. There are illustrations on every page, which not only break up the text, but also add visual assistance in picturing the characters, events and time period. These are well done and hold a lighter, rounded style, which adds a fun and relaxed, reading atmosphere. It keeps the books from feeling as if the reader is sinking into a classic and lets them enjoy an entertaining story.

Not every reader is going to like every one of these books, but then, not even every Shakespeare fan enjoys every single one, either. This collection opens the broad possibilities of Shakespeare up to young readers in a very approachable way and simply lets them enjoy the stories. And these are stories to enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like really seeing Shakespeare and other classics rewritten for young children. It's a good introduction to serious study down the road, if they choose to do so.