A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories
by Angela McAllister
Illustrated by Alice Lindstrom
A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories is worth purchasing for the beautiful illustrations alone, yet the book is so much more than the art. The book contains twelve Shakespeare plays, a mix of tragedies (e.g., Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth) and comedies (e.g., As You Like It and Much Ado about Nothing). These are written for children aged five and up but contain quotes from the original plays including many of the most famous lines, and is a wonderful way to introduce young readers to the world of Shakespeare. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only read the Shakespeare assigned in high school and college and only seen a handful of his plays performed live, so reading these stories allowed me to acquaint myself with the basic plot and characters of some of his most famous work.
A benefit of having brief versions of a range of Shakespeare’s plays is that it’s possible to see easily the recurring themes–jealousy, betrayal–and devices–mistaken identity, cross-dressing, manipulation– he used. Freed from the stress of reading SHAKESPEARE, I enjoyed the stories more and saw the humor more clearly.
The design of the book is phenomenal. Each story begins with a double page spread, the left side with a quote from the play, the right side with a title page beautifully illustrated. Most of the colors used are deep jewel tones, though each story seems to have a uniquely themed hue. On the next page appears a cast of characters and a brief explanation of their position or key family relationships. My only complaint is that the text is small and dense, though that may be an artifact of my aging eyes rather than an objective issue.
This book makes Shakespeare fun for young and old readers alike, and I highly recommend it for your library!
Fun Fact: My favorite Shakespeare adaptation is not literature or film, but music: the song, “Romeo and Juliet” written by Mark Knopfler, in the version performed by the Indigo Girls on their album Rites of Passage
Thanks to Little Children’s Publishing/Quarto Publishing Group and Netgalley for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.