Monday, January 11, 2010

Bravo Mr William Shakespeare presented by Marcia Williams

The Globe Theatre is delighted to announce a new season of Mr. William Shakespeare's plays. Prithee take your places once more for a performance of seven of the Bard's finest plays. See As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, Richard III, Twelfth Night, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing - each brilliantly presented in dramatic comic-strip form, including Mr. Shakespeare's own dialogue and the riotous remarks of the audience. Bravo!

On Sunday I was looking at my library account when I realised that I have a bit of a problem. I can check out four more books on my library card, I have six books waiting to be picked up with two more on the way, and I only had one item ready to take back. Uh-oh. A quick look at my shelves to see if I had anything I could read quickly reminded me that I had this book.

I can't remember whose blog I saw it on originally (normally I write these things down, but didn't this time), but Marcia Williams originally came to my attention when someone posted about her book Archie's War, which is a scrapbook style diary from the perspective of 10 year old Archie Albright. A quick look at the library catalogue did reveal that they didn't have that book on the shelves, but they did have some of the author's other books so I thought I would give one a go!

This book is a collection of 7 of Shakespeare's plays retold in cartoon format. The way that the author has done this is quite clever. The cartoons characters speak actual lines from the plays, whilst the text boxes under the cartoons explain the story, and then along the sides and bottom of each page, you have the unruly crowd commenting. They might be commenting on the story of the play, or it could be a societal comment, or it could be good old fashioned play on words. The commentary from the crowd is quite interesting as well, as the people along the bottom of the page are the lower classes of society with the class of the crowd gradually getting higher up the side of the pages. There are comments about the kind of food that would have been at the theatre, and the Puritans who discouraged attendance and about the Plague. There are cameo appearances by Elizabeth I, and Shakespeare himself, along with a couple of Marlowe and Bacon jokes thrown in for good measure.

As an adult, I really enjoyed this book. The book is aimed at Grade 3 to Grade 6 (so about 9-12), and I am not sure how well it would work. The pages are very busy, and whether they will understand the abbreviated versions of plays like Richard II and King Lear is debatable, but the illustrations are fun and there is plenty of humour which should help as well. I think that my favourite was probably Much Ado About Nothing, but that may well be because that is the play that I am most familiar with.

If you would like to get some idea of the types of illustrations that the author uses, then check out Marcia William's website.

When I picked this book up on Sunday afternoon, I was expecting that this was a book that I would be able to whiz through in a few minutes, but I found myself spending a lot of time on each page reading all the little comments, and looking at all the very detailed illustrations. It was a fun way to spend an hour or so.

Rating 4/5


  1. I might enjoy this one. I'll have to see if my library has it.

    BTW, I didn't have a chance this weekend to participate in Bloggvista but I did try to do the mini challenge to add a copyright to my footer. However, I didn't really understand how to do in in Blogger. I put a copyright at the very botton of my blog, but it doesn't show up in my posts. I see you got it working on yours, can you try to explain it to me. When you have the time.

  2. This sounds interesting- seems everything is being made into a comic these days :-)

  3. These sorts of books are simply fabulous for getting kids (and, heck, adults!) both interested in Shakespeare, and better understanding Shakespeare. People think it's right over kids' heads -- but a production of Twelfth Night we put on with homeschooled children in Albuquerque a couple years ago was hands-down one of the best productions I've ever seen, period. And now three of those children are in a local community theater production of the same play!

  4. Sounds like a great way to introduce my daughter to some of Shakespeare's plays. Thanks!

  5. This looks like a really unique and fun book! I had never before heard of it, or anything like it. Now I want to see it in person to see if it would make a good read for me. Great review, I am so glad you posted this!

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