Hamlet For Kids

( 1 )

Overview

Perhaps the best-known of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet has all the ingredients for a gripping story: revenge and power, familial love and betrayal, dramatic sword fights, dark spooky scenes. Once again Lois Burdett has woven her own brand of magic by transforming Shakespeare's complex verse into rhyming couplets. She has created a version of Hamlet especially for children, even as young as seven, and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.

At the appropriately named Hamlet ...

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Overview

Perhaps the best-known of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet has all the ingredients for a gripping story: revenge and power, familial love and betrayal, dramatic sword fights, dark spooky scenes. Once again Lois Burdett has woven her own brand of magic by transforming Shakespeare's complex verse into rhyming couplets. She has created a version of Hamlet especially for children, even as young as seven, and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.

At the appropriately named Hamlet Elementary School in Stratford, Ontario, where Burdett has taught for over 20 years, her students have created wonderful drawings of Hamlet to illustrate Burdett's fluid rhymes. The students' interpretations are vivid evidence of Burdett's clever ability to bring Shakespeare's complex characters and intricate plots to life for young people.

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Editorial Reviews

Carol Durusau
The style is lively and interesting, and some of the phrasing is humorous.
Julia Bookman
A simplified but responsible version of the tragedy. Meant to be read aloud and staged by children. —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Susan Perren
Ideal for introducing the play (and Shakespeare in the classroom or before the theatre. —Globe and Mail
Jennifer Ailles
Burdett has received numerous awards and commendations for her work in making Shakespeare more accessible to children; Hamlet for Kids demonstrates why Burdett's work is deserving of these honours.
Canadian Children's Literature
Children's Literature
Familiarizing young children with the complex plots of Shakespeare could be daunting indeed, but not so for Burdett. She does for Hamlet just as she did for Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. These plays have been transformed into rhyming couplets which can be easily understood by children as young as seven. Combined with the text are responses to the plot written by many of Burdett's young students. Some have responded from the point of view of characters in the play, where others have created a letter of advice to the players. Illustrations have also been done by the youngsters and they are indeed delightful! All the intrigue of the master writer is included—murder, deceit, insanity, love, and revenge. Hamlet, visited by the ghost of his father, realizes that the king was poisoned by Uncle Claudius who has taken his place. "My father is dead and my uncle is king, / By giving my mother a wedding ring." The plot twists and turns until the final couplet, "Good night, sweet Prince. I'll honour your bequest / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!" As part of a social studies program, this book would be a wonderful read aloud—or better yet, how about staging a play. 2000, Firefly Books, and $8.95. Ages 7 to 12. Reviewer: Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-This seventh series entry retells the story in rhymed couplets with illustrations by the author's students, ages 7 to 12. The style is lively and interesting, and some of the phrasing is humorous: "Meanwhile, King Claudius was still uptight./The cause of Hamlet's madness had not come to light." The fact that stage directions and speakers' names are included within the verses poses some difficulty when acting out the play. A very perceptive narrator would be needed to make it all come out just right. Boxed insets of children's rewritten segments of the play as letters or diary entries offer interesting insights into their perception of the characters. Since the colorful drawings represent the characters in a wide variety of styles, they lack a sense of unity. Activities are presented at the end of the book to extend the experience. This is a good source of ideas for teachers who want to use Shakespeare in their elementary classrooms. Leon Garfield's Shakespeare Stories (Houghton, 1991) is still the best retelling, but school libraries could make good use of this book.-Carol Durusau, Newton County Public Library, Covington, GA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Julia Bookman
A simplified but responsible version of the tragedy. Meant to be read aloud and staged by children.
Globe and Mail - Susan Perren
Ideal for introducing the play (and Shakespeare) in the classroom or before the theatre.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781552095225
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/4/2000
  • Series: Shakespeare Can Be Fun! Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lois Burdett is in great demand throughout North America and Europe for her workshops where she instructs educators how to familiarize young children with Shakespeare. Among other commendations, Lois Burdett has received Encyclopedia Britannica's National Award for Early Childhood Education, Canada's Meritorious Service Medal, the Canadian Teachers' Federation's Hilroy Fellowship, and two writers' awards. Burdett's many speaking engagements have included the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Her books, magazine articles, presentations and media interviews are testimony to her strong influence in the education community, where she has also been instrumental in helping teachers to incorporate Shakespeare into early grade curricula.

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Read an Excerpt

Now the two stood together, royal Father and his son.
"Mark me!" the ghost shuddered, "My hour is almost come.
I am thy father's spirit doomed to walk the night.
At dawn, I render up myself and disappear from sight."
The mournful voice resounded from above,
"If thou didst ever thy dear father love,
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder!" he cried.
"Murder?" Hamlet trembled, and looked horrified.
The very word hammered in his brain.
"Murder most foul!" the spirit bellowed again.
"Tis said," the ghost moaned, "that a serpent bit me.
And I died in my orchard, in tranquillity.
Indeed, a serpent did sting thy father's life.
But it now wears his crown, and has married his wife."
"Oh, my prophetic soul!" cried Hamlet, "Can this be true?"
"Aye!" moaned the spirit, "The facts I will review.
As I slept peacefully on that fateful day,
Your uncle crept towards me, like a beast of prey.
A poisonous liquid, he poured into my ear.
Then he slunk away, with a laughing sneer.
It was a moment I could never have foressen.
My brother snatched my life, my crown, and my Queen.
Bear it not, my son! Set my tortured spirit free!
Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me!"
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Foreword

For anyone coming to this play for the first time (regardless of age), or indeed for those like myself who may be dangerously overfamiliar with the work, this book is a treat. Aside from Ms Burdett's lucid, funny and evocative rendition of the story, there is the priceless contribution of the children. Here is a veracious thrill of that first excited, imaginative response to a great yarn. There are passionate reactions to the characters, which they draw with real feeling, and comments on the story and the people which are intelligent, moving and very, very funny. Fun is the key to this book. It takes a cultural icon and makes you understand its power in an effortless enjoyable way.
From the Foreword by Kenneth Branagh
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Recipe

Now the two stood together, royal Father and his son.
"Mark me!" the ghost shuddered, "My hour is almost come.
I am thy father's spirit doomed to walk the night.
At dawn, I render up myself and disappear from sight."
The mournful voice resounded from above,
"If thou didst ever thy dear father love,
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder!" he cried.
"Murder?" Hamlet trembled, and looked horrified.
The very word hammered in his brain.
"Murder most foul!" the spirit bellowed again.
"Tis said," the ghost moaned, "that a serpent bit me.
And I died in my orchard, in tranquillity.
Indeed, a serpent did sting thy father's life.
But it now wears his crown, and has married his wife."
"Oh, my prophetic soul!" cried Hamlet, "Can this be true?"
"Aye!" moaned the spirit, "The facts I will review.
As I slept peacefully on that fateful day,
Your uncle crept towards me, like a beast of prey.
A poisonous liquid, he poured into my ear.
Then he slunk away, with a laughing sneer.
It was a moment I could never have foressen.
My brother snatched my life, my crown, and my Queen.
Bear it not, my son! Set my tortured spirit free!
Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me!"

Read More Show Less

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