Mirth, magic, and mischief abound in this picture-book retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
Ariel, the beloved sprite whose conjurings precipitate the eponymous tempest, gets top billing in this adaptation and recounts the narrative in the first person. Through Ariel’s eyes, readers are introduced to the powerful Prospero, his lovely daughter, Miranda, and the shipwrecked nobles who are brought to the island to right an ancient wrong. Ellinas’ picture book largely divests the tale of its colonialist underpinnings and breathes three-dimensional complexity into the major and minor characters. Caliban, for instance, is monstrous due to his callous treatment of Ariel rather than because he is racially coded as savage. Another delightful change is the depiction of Miranda, who emerges as an athletic, spirited, and beautiful nature-child whose charms are understandably irresistible to Prince Ferdinand. The text is perfectly matched by Ray’s jaw-droppingly beautiful illustrations, which will enchant readers from the front cover to the final curtain. The greens of the waters and the blues of the island’s night sky are so lush and inviting that readers will wish they could enter the book. Peppered throughout the story are italicized fragments of Shakespeare’s dialogue, giving both young and older readers something to enjoy. Large, granite-colored Caliban is plainly nonhuman; the human characters present white; Ariel is a translucent, paper white.
A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on. (Picture book. 4-8)