Shakespeare's Stories: Tragedies

Shakespeare's Stories: Tragedies

by Beverley Birch

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 6-9 The reasoning behind the persistent efforts to retell Shakespeare's stories must be either a belief in the inherent charm of the stories, almost as folk tales, or a hope that familiarity with the story line will lead young readers eventually to the plays. If today's young readers could draw only from the Lambs' somewhat expurgated Tales from Shakespeare (J.M. Dent, 1982) or the Birch series, Lamb might still be the better choice. There is a clarity in the old-fashioned text which these new adaptations lack. Fortunately, the choice is wider: Marchette Chute's faithful, straightforward Stories from Shakespeare (NAL, 1971); the vibrantly-illustrated offerings of Bernard Miles' Well-Loved Tales from Shakespeare (Macmillan, 1986), or Garfield's Shakespeare Stories (Schocken, 1985). (Garfield would be the economical choice, too, offering almost as many stories in one volume as Birch does in three!). The Birch series presents five stories in each of the three volumes, dividing them along the classic scholarly lines: tragedies, comedies, and histories. The history volume is the least satisfactory, including Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra as two of the five. Since the First Folio, the ``history'' designation has been reserved for the English histories, and the Romans have been classed with the tragedies. Young readers will be misled further by the tale of Henry IV , which tells the story of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I . Birch attempts to integrate the important ``quotes'' from the plays with the modern prose, but too often rephrases in a way that destroys the rhythm. The final offense is the format. The print is cramped, and the black-and-white illustrations are reduced to the point that even the most appealing (Tarrant's) seem mean-spirited. All in all, this is an inadequate solution to a non-existent problem. Sally T. Margolis, formerly at The Newport Schools, Kensington, Md.

Product Details

School Specialty Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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