Thursday, May 9, 2013

Avi's Take on Romeo and Juliet

Avi. Romeo and Juliet: Together (And Alive!) at Last. New York: Scholastic Paperbacks, 2012.

Avi has written children's books in just about every category that exists. This is his take on a Shakespeare play.

The plot of this very basic chapter book is a mirror plot. In order to get two shy students who like each other to talk to each other, a third student decides to stage a production of Romeo and Juliet.

Hijinks ensue.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The characters are fairly interesting and vivacious, and the book has something of a Shakespeare idea motivating it. But it's also flawed. It's set among eighth graders, but the reading level is nearer the second grade level; that involves a discrepancy between the characters' and their experiences and the lack of a mature language to express or describe it.

The use of Shakespeare is puzzling. Let me give you an example or two.

From page 93.

From page 113.

I get that—I understand where the humor of that comes from.  Saying "Parting is such sweet and sour that tomorrow I shall say good night till it be sorry" is pretty funny.  And so are "Lemon table day" and "I lack a day"—but I don't know that second-grade readers will find those terribly amusing unless they know where the words have gone wrong. And the book doesn't help along those lines. If it provided the correct versions of the Shakespeare quotes at some earlier point, it would work fairly well; as it is, it falls fairly flat.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2016 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

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