TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE

Featuring inviting design, near-transparent prose, and an all-star cast of illustrators, this collection of retold Shakespearean stories should become a front runner in a decidedly crowded field. Packer recasts ten major comedies and tragedies as short stories, filling in details of dress, gesture, and motivation between incidents, and mixing direct quotes with paraphrases: “Ill met by moonlight, Titania. What are you doing here?” Each entry opens with a mood-setting, full-page illustration, including somber portraits of Macbeth and Othello from Barry Moser and Kadir Nelson, respectively, a powerful Lear family portrait from the Dillons, a cluster of amiable figures in peasant dress in Barbara McClintock’s Forest of Arden tableau, and windblown views of Prospero, Miranda, and Caliban from Mark Teague. Prefaced by a lively account of Shakespeare’s career, theater, and big themes, these frank, witty, sad, melodramatic, heartrending versions effectively capture the originals’ timeless art—and heart. (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-32107-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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IN CAVERNS OF BLUE ICE

Its focus firmly on the details of mountaineering in the French Alps and the Himalayas—mechanics, technique, lore, social milieu—a simplistic novel about an unlikely superheroine (though already making record-breaking climbs while still in her teens, her only major injury occurs early on when a guide hazes her by giving her a double load) who achieves worldwide recognition for her exploits in the 1950's. The tacked-on plot—minor setbacks, a romance with another climber—has less depth than most comic strips and reads like an old-fashioned adulatory biography. Roper is obviously well-acquainted with climbing, and for anyone interested in the subject there's a wealth of information here; he should have omitted the feeble story and added an index. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-316-75606-7

Page Count: 188

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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