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Children's LiteratureMs. Packer, who retells the stories of ten of the most popular Shakespearean plays, has impressive credentials. She is the president and artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, the award-winning theater she founded in Massachusetts in 1976. She has directed many productions, including all the plays in the book. Her introduction, dotted with pertinent quotes from the bard, is fascinating. She begins by telling a little of what is known about Shakespeare's life and his world and the elements that shaped his plays. In conclusion, she urges the reader to consider these Shakespeare plays that deal with the meaning of life as handbooks for living because of their parallels in the contemporary world. The plays retold are A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, As You Like It, Macbeth, The Tempest, Othello, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet. Since the book has fewer than 200 pages and each page features wide borders with the play name written in distracting stylized type, the stories are briefer than some retellings of Shakespeare's tales I have read. That may be an advantage for some, but not for others. Each tale is illustrated by a different, well-known illustrator whose style nicely complements it. 2004, Scholastic Press, Ages 12 up.
—Janet Crane Barley