SHAKESPEARE’S STORYBOOK by Patrick Ryan

SHAKESPEARE’S STORYBOOK

Folk Tales That Inspired the Bard
adapted by , illustrated by
Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

Seven folktales are presented to the reader as having influenced Shakespeare in the writing of The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Winter’s Tale. In a continuation of the ancient practice of storytelling, the bard adapted the tales he had heard as a child for the audiences of Britain’s new public theaters. A marvelous introduction to the collection describes the transformation of storytelling from oral tradition to written word, as well as the background of theater in the 1500s. An introduction to each tale gives a brief summary of the play and the variations on the folktale that may have influenced his writing. At times, it is rather difficult to follow this confusing literary trail, but the introduction is saved by the look into the social and political atmosphere of Shakespeare’s day that it affords the reader. While Ryan (George W. Bush, not reviewed, etc.) gives a brief one-paragraph synopsis of each play, the subtle connections of each folktale will be better understood by those who have some level of familiarity with Shakespeare’s works. But of course, the folktales are enjoyable in and of themselves. Especially fun is “The Devil’s Bet,” in which a lazy and contrary girl must tame her harsh ways and mean tricks so as not to be eaten by a monster who lives in the spring—and so that she can be a proper wife for her husband. On every story’s introductory pages, Shakespearean quotes frame the text, and one or more main characters are drawn and labeled to aid the reader in following the plot. Mayhew’s (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, p. 947, etc.) detailed watercolors fill the margins of the pages, and each tale features a full-page illustration. A lovely supplement to the Shakespeare oeuvre. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-84148-307-9
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Barefoot
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001




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