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TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM by William Shakespeare


A Child’s Book of Rhymes

by William Shakespeare & illustrated by James Mayhew

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-29655-2
Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

In a lovely conceit, well presented, Mayhew respins a gentle tale in pictures that tie together a bit of Shakespeare for the very young. The smallest snippets of verse from the plays—the longest at eight lines—range from Hamlet to Cymbeline to The Tempest. But each really does stand as its own small poem, and most, read aloud well, will be quite comprehensible even to the youngest of children. The double-paged, full-bleed illustrations tell the story of a family in an idyllic, rustic setting of some time past: the mother holding a small child near a picnic hamper, two boys and a girl gamboling, flying a kite, chasing paper boats, and accompanied by a loose-limbed dog. The river becomes the sea, a storm comes up, they glimpse a mermaid on a dolphin, and then it is evening. The sheep gather to the sound of the boy’s pipe, the stars come out, and mother tucks baby and daughter into bed. And it is all from “methinks I scent / the morning air” of Hamlet to “our little life is / rounded with a sleep” of The Tempest. The images, rich in blues and tender golds, have the misty outlines of imagination and serve the poetry well. (Poetry. 4-10)