Hear, Hear, Mr. Shakespeare: Story, Illustrations, and Selections

Hear, Hear, Mr. Shakespeare: Story, Illustrations, and Selections

by Bruce Koscielniak
     
 

In the sleepy English market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, poet and playwright William Shakespeare is at work tending his garden when a maiden and a lad stop by to announce that a merry troupe of players is approaching. The troupe, on its way to London, hopes to be invited to perform for the queen. The actors, however, are in need of a lively new play, and just

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Overview

In the sleepy English market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, poet and playwright William Shakespeare is at work tending his garden when a maiden and a lad stop by to announce that a merry troupe of players is approaching. The troupe, on its way to London, hopes to be invited to perform for the queen. The actors, however, are in need of a lively new play, and just maybe Shakespeare can help. In this fanciful and festive recreation of Elizabethan Stratford, Bruce Koscielniak brings the spirit of the times alive with fun-filled pictures and Shakespeare's own incomparable words, here made accessible to young readers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The reader is invited to make a fanciful visit with Shakespeare at his Stratford house and garden and to savor the rich texture of his words," writes Koscielniak (Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather) at the start of this breezy if slightly fragmented roundup of brief quotations from the Bard. As Shakespeare tends his garden, neighbors and a troupe of traveling players address him with questions or comments, answered with a surfeit of snippets from the scribe's plays. The appealingly hand-lettered responses, loosely connected to the subject at hand, appear in cartoon-style balloons, which playfully attribute the words to rabbits, mice and other animals while a silent Shakespeare stands by. When the actors, en route to London to perform for the queen, discover that the rain has washed away the words of their script, they ask the obliging Shakespeare to "write for us some jolly new play." Impressively, the dialogue balloons don't interrupt the story line; rather, they act as a sort of chorus. The work accordingly lends itself to reading aloud, so that Shakespeare's musicality shines through. Definitions of words that might baffle kids (e.g., "airs," "mirth," "masque") and notes on Elizabethan theatrical customs are also set into the sunny, full-bleed ink-and-watercolor art. To borrow a quip the author quotes from Love's Labour's Lost, "Tu-who! a merry note..." that Koscielniak strikes. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Susan Hepler
In this introduction to Shakespeare, a traveling troupe of actors drops in on William Shakespeare with their latest play script ruined by a rainstorm. Shakespeare quickly whips up a new play which then is declared worthy of going to London to be performed for Queen Elizabeth. Because the text is interrupted on each page by 5-8 quotes from various Shakespeare plays, readers jump in and out of the story as they read familiar and unfamiliar quotes. Quote balloons are grouped around themes within the double page spreads-gardens, weather, plays, acting, players, and so forth. Fanciful illustrations feature scratchy black line and soft full color which portrays the costumed players, the animals who offer quotes, song snippets, and occasional definitions, and of course the Bard himself. Endpapers feature two timelines: Shakespeare's dates, and the dates of his many plays. Those who already love Shakespeare's plays will welcome this convenient way to introduce the man and his work to young readers. But as a story, this picture storybook is less successful at winning new converts on its own.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4What a jolly introduction to the Bard. Will Shakespeare is working in his garden in Stratford when a troupe of players comes into town. A rainstorm hits and part of their script is washed out so Shakespeare must create a new comedy on the spot. As he finishes, the Queen just happens to pass through the village in her royal coach to see if the playwright has any new plays to take to London. She approves the new work and all is well. Visually, this is a very appealing creation, and there's a lot going on in these busy pages. As seen in Koscielniak's ink-and-watercolor drawings, Mr. Shakespeare is a friendly guy, the players cavort in a variety of homemade costumes, and bugs and animals stroll by the roadside and chime in with appropriate quotes. Hand done by the author, even the lettering is inviting. The sometimes awkward text, set off in boxes, is the weakest element in the melange that includes many fitting short quotes from the plays (identified by play, act, and scene) and several helpful explanations and definitions. Since only the barest outline of Shakespeare's life is recorded history (most of which is hand lettered onto the attractive endpapers along with a complete play list), such highly unlikely imaginings just dance around the facts. Nonetheless, pleasurable first experiences such as this may help to ward off defensive reactions when the plays are seen or studied later.Sally Margolis, Barton Public Library, VT
Kirkus Reviews
This scattershot introduction to the Bard's language and times superimposes topically related sound bites from the plays over a brief picture-book encounter between Shakespeare, gardening behind his Stratford home, and a wandering troupe whose only script has been ruined by a summer shower. He quickly pens them another piece. Done in a typeface that imitates rough hand- lettering, the linesþasides delivered by bugs, farm animals, and field creaturesþare placed in dialogue balloons that come close to obscuring the watercolor scenery. Koscielniak (Euclid Bunny Delivers the Mail, 1991, etc.) supplies citations, plus occasional historical notes and glosses, but few of the quotations are complete songs or speeches, the lines and turns of phrase that have become part of common speech are thinly represented, and many selections were evidently chosen less for content than for key words: e.g., "Make haste, I say" and "Hie, make haste, make haste!" (both, Romeo and Juliet), and "Bid the players make haste" and "Let us haste to hear it" (both, Hamlet). Younger readers will get a truer taste of Shakespeare from Bruce Coville's William Shakespeare's Macbeth (1997) and William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (1996); here they will find just indifferently connected "words, words, words." (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395874950
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/01/1998
Edition description:
None
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Bruce Koscielniak is the author and illustrator of several books for children; he is also a musician who has played the violin and jazz guitar for many years. He lives in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.

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