The plays are really the thing, but these concise and often hilarious takes offer tantalizing hints of their enduring value,...

Is it possible for one not-very-large volume to contain pop-up summaries of the Bard’s every play and poem, with representative scenes, settings, quotes, and historical notes?

Leave it to the managing partners of the Reduced Shakespeare Company to manage the deed—with plenty of help from Maizels (Pop-Up New York, 2014, etc.). She places brightly costumed actors (all white except for Othello) on both sides of numerous flaps and pop-up forests, tempests, and throne rooms while somehow preserving gaps to rest the eye and leaving space for the snarky commentary. The fast-break literary tour begins with a spread of general background, including a stand-up model of the Globe (the immolation of which while hosting Henry VIII resulted in “the only exciting performance of that play ever”), then goes on to devote successive spreads to the comedies, histories, romances (including sonnets and other poetry), and tragedies. Each work comes with an opinionated summary of its plot and major themes, plus a summary of the summary—“Much ado leads to much ‘I do!’ ”; “The couple that slays together stays together”—snatches of more-or-less actual dialogue, and a famous line or two. Broader themes, from all the cross-dressing in the plays and the notion of “comic relief” to the anti-Semitism in Merchant of Venice, rate mentions. There’s even an entry for the lost play Cardenio.

The plays are really the thing, but these concise and often hilarious takes offer tantalizing hints of their enduring value, along with their content. (Informational pop-up. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9874-4

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017


From the Jason Steed series , Vol. 1

How does a boy turn into a hero? Growing up in Hong Kong, Jason never thought about it. Having lost his mother at birth, been neglected by his father and raised by a succession of nannies, Jason is drawn to the discipline of the martial arts at an early age. He conquers them one by one, earning black belts in all. Looking for new challenges, it’s not long before he’s sneaking onto the nearby naval base to teach himself to fly on flight simulators. By the time his father relocates them to England, this 11-year-old is not like the other boys at school. But it isn’t until he joins the Sea Cadets and goes on a training exercise off Jakarta that he has the opportunity to put all his training to good use. Well constructed, full of adolescent wish-fulfillment and almost believable, this is an undemanding page-turner in the spirit of Alex Rider and Co. that will appeal to parents as well as kids. Let the sequels begin. (Thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3999-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010


In a morality tale with all the breeziness and exaggeration of a teen movie, an eighth-grade mean girl loses her status and becomes only slightly less mean.

The lead in the school musical and the host of an advice segment on the school's TV channel, Kacey Simon starts at the top. Then a failure to care for her new purple contacts and a fall at her friend Molly's boy-girl birthday party doom Kacey to the ultimate in loser accessories: glasses and braces. Saddled with a braces-related speech impediment along with her geeky new look, Kacey finds herself at the bottom of the pecking order. Molly and other former friends circulate a YouTube video mocking Kacey's lisp, and, somewhat unrealistically, the drama teacher immediately removes her from the school play. Luckily (and, one might argue, undeservedly), two outcasts support the fallen queen of mean. Paige, a student-government enthusiast, helps Kacey with a plan to regain her popularity. Zander, an indie rocker who wears, to Kacey's horror, skinny jeans, grudgingly accepts Kacey as his band's lead singer. Despite the book's ostensible stance against meanness, Kacey regains her social standing largely by bullying and manipulating her old friends, and the notion that glasses and braces must always spell social ruin is left unquestioned.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-06825-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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