Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Leon Garfield's Shakespeare Stories (New York Review Books)

The first time I read anything by William Shakespeare was 9th grade. I didn't understand it. I don't think my teacher understood. And it didn't ignite a spark in me to read more of his works. I would like to say as my high school years passed I got progressively better, but it wasn't until I read Hamlet that I developed a true interest in Shakespeare. As I have grown older, I have read many different works on Shakespeare, including Catholic interpretations of his works and children's books that make his works more accessible and approachable to a younger audience. Today, I would like to tell you about Leon Garfield's Shakespeare Stories.

The book has twenty-one of Shakespeare's works including Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar to name a few. Each work is approximately 20-30 pages long and is told in prose, not poetry. However, the actual lines from Shakespeare's plays are quoted. The language is simple and straightforward without sacrificing the beauty of the Bard. The book itself is a sturdy hardcover, which is much appreciated, and of a manageable size. The only elements I feel are missing from this book is an introduction, more illustrations, and I would have liked for each story to be broken into acts, like the actual plays were. Overall, I found this book to be the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for children in middle school or perhaps younger, if they are avid readers. In fact, I used the book as jumping off point for some of Shakespeare's plays that I have never read before, so there is a usefulness in this book for adults as well. I would much rather read this work and then the actual play, as opposed to Cliff's Notes. So if you are looking for a book to get your child, tween, or teen with Shakespeare, I can recommend no better book than this one.

This book was provided to me for free by New York Review Books in exchange for an honest review.