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All the World's a Stage
     

All the World's a Stage

by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Guy Billout (Illustrator)
 

More than 400 years ago, English playwright William Shakespeare wrote about the "Seven Ages of Man"—the changing roles we play on the stage of life before taking our final curtain call. This collection of 21 poems, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins, explores those 7 ages, offering voices and perspectives that are as varied as they are sage. From a Nigerian

Overview

More than 400 years ago, English playwright William Shakespeare wrote about the "Seven Ages of Man"—the changing roles we play on the stage of life before taking our final curtain call. This collection of 21 poems, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins, explores those 7 ages, offering voices and perspectives that are as varied as they are sage. From a Nigerian lullaby to the verses of such contemporary poets as Janet S. Wong, these poems—paired with masterful artwork by Guy Billout—laugh, cry, and sing to celebrate the theater of human existence.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
Poet and anthologist Hopkins (Nasty Bugs) reads Shakespeare's "All the World's a Stage" soliloquy not as a meditation on the futility of existence, but as a straightforward account of the stages of human development. He uses it to frame a selection of 21 mostly modern-era, mostly free-verse poems, accompanied by French artist Billout's (Journey) crisp, surrealist spreads. In the section titled "Adulthood" ("And then the justice,/ In fair round belly with good capon lin'd"), Paul Janeczko reminisces about his mother's hot night at bingo. "She pulled dollars bills/ from her pockets/ before setting them free. ‘Ninety-two dollars!' " In the final section, "Exits" ("Last scene of all..."), Cynthia Cotten mourns: "Once I ran to meet tomorrow./ Now I sit/ and wait." Billout borrows Magritte's eye for enigma. An infant in a ballroom discovers that the tiled floor ripples like a pond; a hiker gazes into a deep chasm and finds it opens onto the night sky. The pictures feel cool, the Shakespeare passages lofty, the poetry familiar and chatty, and the type and layout stark—it's a hodgepodge of tones and registers. Ages 8–up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
01/01/2014
Gr 4 Up—Building from Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from As You Like It, Hopkins organizes this collection of poetry according to the seven ages, labeling them: "Entrances," "Childhood," "Love," "War," "Adulthood," "Aged," and "Exits" and allotting three poems for each. Every section opens with a spread of a theater with each life stage portrayed inside, beginning with "At first the infant…" and taking readers through to the "Last Scene" stage. The stark, surreal art delivers small bites of emotion and symbolism. The 21 selections come from a range of poets, mixing Walt Whitman and Lewis Carroll with modern children's poets such as Janet S. Wong and Kate Coombs. The unique concept behind this book allows readers to look at both the monologue and the poetry in a new way. While the picture book trimsize suggests younger readers, the content will resonate most for those with more life experience to bring to it. An explanatory introduction is included.—Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
Like the old man's hose, Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" speech is "a world too wide" to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per "age." Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman's "When I heard the learn'd astronomer," Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How do I love thee?" and Lewis Carroll's "You are old, father William." Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the "infant, / Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms," for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland "Amazing, your face. / Amazing"; on the facing page, a "traditional Nigerian lullaby" is stripped of music: "Sleep my baby near to me. / Lu lu lu lu lu lu." Along with Joan Bransfield Graham's "A Soldier's Letter to a Newborn Daughter," which ends with a condescending "I'm coming home / to my girls… / With All My Love, / DAD," most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins' "Curtain," probably written for this collection, closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal elements in largely empty settings--appropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines' vigorous language and snarky tone. A poor performance, "[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568462189
Publisher:
Creative Company, The
Publication date:
08/13/2013
Product dimensions:
9.60(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Lee Bennett Hopkins has written and edited many award-winning books. Since 1993, he has helped outstanding poets gain recognition by way of the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Award.

Guy Billout's unusual and often humorous illustrations have been featured in prominent periodicals such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly and in his nine picture books, including The Frog Who Wanted to See the Sea.

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