The message of this well-intentioned book is clear, but a lack of substance diminishes its impact.

READ REVIEW

SWACK TEENS

This short work of juvenile fiction introduces a group of extraordinary teenagers who, at the behest of a benevolent alien, join forces to combat bullying.

The story begins on the first day back from summer vacation, when the students of Gordon High School find a substitute teacher in their computer science class. The teacher is Juno, an alien in disguise, who happens to be looking to recruit six kids to help him put a stop to problems afflicting Earth’s schools and communities while also sending positive messages in the process. The ethnically diverse and undeniably cool teens (white BMXer and computer aficionado Jumpzz, black basketball player and science enthusiast Skillz, among others) are very different, but all exhibit the same laudable characteristics: They’re respectful, humble, studious, confident, involved in charity work, etc. The majority of the story, though, revolves around the teens meeting each other and Juno rather than helping Juno with his mission. Only at the very end does the bullying issue come up, when they confront Blake the Bully on the playground. Additionally, the narrative is inexplicably formatted like a screenplay, focusing almost exclusively on dialog. While the style may make it more palatable for young readers, it greatly diminishes the potential richness and depth of the reading experience. The story boasts a full cast of positive teen role models, along with eye-catching illustrations by the author, but the subject of bullying is only superficially explored.

The message of this well-intentioned book is clear, but a lack of substance diminishes its impact.

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984397136

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard.

HAMLET

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The timeless tale of the young and disaffected Danish prince who is pushed to avenge his father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother unfolds with straightforward briskness. Shakespeare’s text has been liberally but judiciously cut, staying true to the thematic meaning while dispensing with longer speeches (with the notable exception of the renowned “to be or not to be” soliloquy) and intermediary dialogues. Some of the more obscure language has been modernized, with a glossary of terms provided at the end; despite these efforts, readers wholly unfamiliar with the story might struggle with independent interpretation. Where this adaptation mainly excels is in its art, especially as the play builds to its tensely wrought final act. Illustrator Kumar (World War Two, 2015, etc.) pairs richly detailed interiors and exteriors with painstakingly rendered characters, each easily distinguished from their fellows through costume, hairstyle, and bearing. Human figures are generally depicted in bust or three-quarter shots, making the larger panels of full figures all the more striking. Heavily scored lines of ink form shadows, lending the otherwise bright pages a gritty air. All characters are white.

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard. (biography of Shakespeare, dramatis personae, glossary) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-51-2

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more