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KLIATTGrace Tiffany is a Shakespeare expert, and has written novels for adults. Ariel, her first YA title, gives the back-story of the whimsical sprite Ariel, featured in The Tempest. The first half of the story focuses on Ariel's life on an isolated island in the Bermuda Triangle in the early Middle Ages. The tale of Caliban's origin, and the reason for his misshapen body, is recounted in order to rationalize the two beings' actions later when interacting with Prospero. Ariel is pictured as a timeless spirit who draws strength from humans, yet feels little love. The ending offers a clever link to America's "discovery" centuries later. Examining classic literature from unusual perspectives or "side" characters has captured the imagination of several authors writing today. Tiffany's treatment is credible, though the first part seems a bit uneven in writing quality. The writing improves in the second half, but the plot is more predictable as it closely follows Shakespeare's play. Nevertheless, this book will be a welcome addition to literature classes as a way to make Shakespeare more accessible. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, HarperCollins, Laura Geringer, 240p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Dr. Lesley Farmer