Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on an HBO animated series, these condensations emphasize the dramatic content of some of Shakespeare's best known works. As abridged by Garfield in consultation with a panel of scholars, the books on the whole retain the magic of Shakespeare's vision and remain true to his poetics. Linguistic fluidity is perforce sacrificed (omitted lines are presented as italicized summaries interspersed throughout the dialogue), but these versions should still fire children's imaginations. Though the artwork varies in quality, the Eastern European illustrators generally capture the underlying theatrics. Palettes are subdued for the dramas, and appropriately brighter for the comedies (though the tone reproductions frequently seem off). Several plays' illustrations have a cartoony appearance; a few exhibit the stilted look of old Classics Comics. While the plays forgo their complexities--many subplots are omitted--as they become more linear in their themes (Macbeth loses much of his humanity, Romeo and Juliet is pared of its politics), their nobility shines through in these visualized introductions. One hopes that readers will be encouraged to move on to the originals. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)
Shakespeare wrote his plays to entertain. Students too often miss out on the entertainment because they get bogged down in unfamiliar language and rhythms. Two-Can Publishing is producing an "Interfact Shakespeare" series to remedy that. In addition to a book containing the full, rich text of Macbeth, the publisher includes an abbreviated modern-version, historical background to set the scene for the times in which the play was written, as well as a CD-ROM. The CD-ROM provides lively animated games to introduce the characters, the plot and the language of Macbeth. Sound effects cheer for the right answers or announce wrong ones. Bookmarks for many questions show where to find the reference in the text of the play. Since this is a learning tool, not a test of acquired knowledge, the student can look up the reference before answering the question. The CD-ROM also promises connection to a web site with many links to Shakespeare sites of interest. Unfortunately, each of the five times I tried to access the site, I got the message "A connectional failure has occurred," so I am unable to comment about the site itself. When the user selects the button to connect to the web sites, a well-considered warning points out that this "...opens Internet connection so make sure you've checked with the person who pays the telephone bill that you are allowed to access the world wide web." Even without access to the web site, this package should not only teach about Macbeth but encourage a student to look at Shakespeare with a positive attitude. 2001, Two-Can Publishing, $19.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Janet Crane Barley
This production of Romeo and Juliet featuring Kenneth Branagh and Sir John Gielgud is a superb contribution to the field of classics on cassette. The stunning performance by the Renaissance Theatre Company captures all the color and emotion of Shakespeare's eloquent tragedy of young love. With Samantha Bond as Juliet, Derek Jacobi as Mercutio, and Judi Dench as Nurse, the play, which is set in 16th-century Verona, contains some of the most passionate dialog ever written. An excellent musical score by Patrick Doyle accompanies the actors, as well as a full array of authentic sound effects. The pounding of hooves, the chiming of church bells, and the clashing of angry swords enrich this outstanding listening experience. A 24-page booklet complete with sketches and photos of the actors, a synopsis of the play, and background information is included in the package. Highly recommended for most libraries.-Gretchen Browne, Rockville Centre P.L., N.Y.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-7--Macbeth has strong appeal for young audiences and Coville's lucid retelling captures much of it. Aided by the short, intense, and uninterrupted story line of the play, the reteller deftly weaves many of the most familiar quotes with his own dramatic narrative. In a short preface that sketches a quick history of the play's popularity, Coville invokes cultural literacy as one of his missions. Despite this heavy burden, he carries off the telling with grace. Kelley's dark, evocative pastels reflect and intensify the ominous mood. Glowering hillsides, gloomy interiors, the handsome and doomed Macbeths, and truly ghastly witches create a mood worthy of the play. The only unfortunate image is the weak-chinned Macbeth reacting to Banquo's ghost with a look more comic than horrified. Darkness prevails until the final painting of light morning skies over the hills. Coville's muscular sentences, full of dramatic word choices, make this a good read-aloud choice. While not avoiding the horrors in the story, the reteller does not dwell on the goriest moments, letting the worst, such as the slaughtering of Macduff's children, happen offstage. The accurate depiction of the story will give older students or casual playgoers a good quick review. If it doesn't end up lost among the picture books, this retelling could have many uses.--Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL
Directors Welles, Nunn, and Polanski, and actors Garrick, Siddons, Olivier, and McKellen, are among those mentioned in an analysis of stage and screen productions of Macbeth. After a brief survey of earlier productions, focuses on the 20th century. Includes a few stills and drawings. distributed by St. Martin's. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read an Excerpt
This book is written in Spanish. Macbeth es una de las grandes tragedias de William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Macbeth, el gran general del ejército del rey de Escocia, regresa victorioso después de una campaña de apaciguamiento cuando sucumbe a la tentación del poder. Desde entonces un mundo tenebroso y mágico, de apariciones y desconfianzas, sembrará de crímenes la pacífica vida de los escoceses hasta que Macbeth muere como habían viticinado las brujas.