Friday, March 13, 2015

Twenty Shakespeare Children's Stories (Sweet Cherry Publishing)

The first time I was exposed to Shakespeare was freshman year of high school. Sure, I had heard the name before, but I had never read any of his words. We were forced to read Romeo and Juliet, and yes I mean it when I say forced. His words were an English that I did not understand, and the references he made went over my head nine times out of ten. We slogged through this play, without me getting much out of it. Sure, there were copious amounts of footnotes, but when the footnotes nearly equal the length of the play, it's hard to hold my interest. This happened for the next three years with Julius Caesar, Othello, and finally Hamlet. My understanding did increase marginally from year to year, but I always regretted not appreciating the Bard as much as I could and should have. I don't want my children to have these same regrets, so I am going to expose them to Shakespeare earlier than I did. One way I am going to do that is with Twenty Shakespeare Children's Stories. Included in this collection are the following plays:

1. A Winter's Tale
2. All's Well That Ends Well
3. Antony and Cleopatra
4. As You Like It
5. The Comedy of Errors
6. Cymbeline, King of Britain
7. Julius Caesar
8. King Lear
9. A Midsummer Night's Dream
10. Much Ado about Nothing
11. Othello
12. Romeo and Juliet
13. The Merchant of Venice
14. Macbeth
15. The Two Gentlemen of Verona
16. Timon of Athens
17. Twelfth Night
18. Hamlet
19. The Tempest
20. The Taming of the Shrew

Each story is 64 pages long with illustrations on almost every page. The beginning of each book starts with a one page introduction on who Shakespeare was. It then gives a cast of characters for each play. Unfortunately, in these character descriptions there is a bit of plot given away that while it wouldn't surprise an adult, could potentially spoil the play for your child. For example from Julius Caesar, "Brutus is one of the conspirators. He is a high-ranking nobleman and easily influenced. He conspired to kill Julius because Julius was getting too powerful and posed a threat to the republic." And from Othello we read about him that, "He wins the heart of Desdemona because of his virtues. But later in the play, he kills her because of his insecurities based on racial and cultural differences." Knowing people are going to die in the play takes a bite out of the play.

Each book took me approximately ten minutes to read, and that was reading it a slow deliberate pace. Your child could read it in about that same time, maybe twenty minutes at most. The books read a bit like Cliff Notes, and I don't mean that in a bad way. There is no rhyme, no iambic pentameter, and no five acts. It is written in easily understood prose with a large font that will make your child proud when they have finished a book! If you are a teacher, a librarian, or a homeschooling parent, this collection belongs on your shelf. I know we will be reading and re-reading this series for many years to come!

This collection was provided to me for free by Sweet Cherry Publishing in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!