Gr 5-9- McKeown uses clear, concise prose in this faithful retelling of the Bard's tale of power gone mad. Although he leaves a few of the more famous quotations intact, he takes some liberties with Shakespeare's original, but that does not mar this version in any way. The details of the play unfold in 23 brief chapters; thus, readers can easily follow the story, whether using this version alone or as a means of clarifying the poetic text. Occasionally, specifics are eliminated, as in the case of Portia's suicide. McKeown speaks of her death as "unusual," never mentioning her swallowing hot coals. Nevertheless, the overall story is complete. Hamlin's drawings-ranging from single character insets to full-page charcoal and watercolor illustrations-use a palette of primarily red, yellow, and orange for the majority of the scenes, changing to black and dark blue to show the conspirators as they plan their sinister deed. While the execution of facial details is excellent, some of the expressions seem a bit forced or exaggerated. Nevertheless, the artwork clearly elucidates the text and contributes to readers' understanding of the story. A "Who's Who" of characters, two pages of answers to common questions, and an accessible index round out this edition. Geared to an older audience than Jennifer Mulherin's Julius Caesar (Evans Brothers, 2002), this is a good choice for students studying the play or for teachers wishing to initiate a discussion of political choices during this election year.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Julius Caesar (The Young Reader's Shakespeare Series)by Adam McKeown, Janet Hamlin
Young Reader’s Shakespeare returns, with another visually stunning and brilliantly rewritten version of one of the Bard’s classic plays. Julius Caesar has become such a part of our culture that many people even quote from it without realizing they are doing so: phrases such as “the dogs of war,” “it’s Greek to me,” and “the evil that men do” have become part of everyday English. With its powerful depiction of political struggle, assassination, and a country plunged into chaos, it tells a tale that’s as timely today as when Shakespeare first dramatized it.
Seamlessly blending Shakespeare’s beautiful lines with modern language, Adam McKeown eases children into the world of Imperial Rome. His well-chosen words, aided by Janet Hamlin’s striking and boldly colored paintings, introduce them to such unforgettable characters as the well-meaning Brutus and Cassius with his “lean and hungry look.” Plus, Renaissance scholar McKeown provides thought-provoking background on Shakespeare and the play, a “Who’s Who” of the characters, and fascinating questions for young readers to ponder.
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