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Age Range: 10 - 12
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Four plays—Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, and The Tempest—are retold in pedestrian fashion with minimally appealing illustrations. The audience for these types of retellings is always questionable, but this particular collection has more trouble than most in finding one at all. There are many exclamation points and rhetorical questions, and though all of the dialogue is derived from the originals, it is often rewritten. In one particularly meretricious instance, the line from The Tempest, “we are such stuff as dreams are made on,” is misquoted as “we are such stuff as dreams are made of.” In every instance, characterization is reduced to flatness: Ophelia is a weak flower; Othello is jealous; Cleopatra is devious. There’s neither depth nor room for the lovely intricacies of Shakespeare’s people. The choice of plays is aimed at a somewhat older audience, but the inclusion of pictures seems to pitch it at a younger one. When you come right down to it, a 12-year-old is probably ready to see the plays, but this won’t work for them either: leaving out so much, it fails as a précis; and flattening the action and characters so, it fails as a study guide. With several better retellings available, this volume is unnecessary. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-340-79725-8
Page count: 126pp
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2002


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