Saturday, April 14, 2018

Stories from Shakespeare

I love being the go-to person for children's book recommendations.  Chances are, our personal library probably has a book about any subject you're intersted in.  I recently pulled these out for a friend.  Her daughters are dancing in a Midsummer Night's Dream ballet and she realized that they hadn't heard the story.

(I've posted about Shakespeare before here and here and here.)

retold by Bruice Coville
pictures by Dennis Nolan

This picture book retelling is appropriate for younger kids since the many illustrations will keep their attention.  And the storytelling is pretty straightforward, even with all the silly twists and turns of that dreamy forest night.




Next are two editions of the stories by Charles and Mary Lamb.

Charles and Mary Lamb were famous for their version of Shakespeare's plays published for children in 1807. Our 1925 versions has illustrations by Frank Godwin (and lovely endpages done for The Winston Bookshelf).  

Then we have Rackham's accompanying illustrations and who can resist those?!
Charles and Mary Lamb
illustrated by Arthur Rackham

E. Nesbit also tried her hand at re-writing Shakespeare for her daughters.  

E. Nesbit
illustrated by Rolf Klep

 I'm a bit more fond of the Lamb version only because they made a concentrated effort to keep the spirit of Shakespeare's language.  Lamb writes "The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader as an introduction to the study of Shakespeare, for which purpose his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote:  therefore, words introduced into our language since his time have been as far as possible removed."

 Nesbit's feels more a product of her time (1907) but can be a charming and easier read.  She also tells the sweet story of how her children asked her to write the stories one night because while reading the original A Midsummer Night's Dream they "couldn't understand a word of it."

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