SHAKESPEARE by Michael Rosen
Kirkus Star


His Work and His World
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 10 & up
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Rosen makes the life and work of Shakespeare vibrant and exciting in this perfectly splendid biography. He opens with Shakespeare and his cohorts pulling down a wooden theatre under cover of night, to rebuild it as the Globe on the other side of London Bridge. He continues by describing in clear contemporary language some famous plots from the plays, spiced with quotes. He gives enough history so readers can understand that Shakespeare lived in tumultuous times, and that such was reflected in what he wrote. For Shakespeare’s life, Rosen sticks strictly to what is known, and does a beautiful job of tying those few facts into English life in the 16th century, to make a brief but coherent whole. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, and Macbeth are treated at some length, and Rosen is very good at offering just the right hook to lure young readers in. His analysis of Juliet’s screaming argument with her parents, who want her to marry Paris when she has already secretly wed Romeo, will find readers nodding in abject recognition. He urges his audience to rent a video or see a performance, reminding them that Shakespeare wrote scripts, not books. But it’s the format that makes this stand out from the usual treatment of these times; large type on oversized pages, quotes in bold, and lots of white space invite younger readers to explore this fascinating universe. Ingpen’s exquisitely detailed watercolors range from full two-page spreads to marginalia; most are in full, burnished color but some are done in grisaille very effectively. Beautiful and engaging. (timeline, bibliography) (Biography. 10+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-1568-4
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001


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