Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Note: Board Book Shakespeare

Adams, Jennifer. Romeo & Juliet: A Counting Primer. Illus. Alison Oliver. Little Master Shakespeare. A BabyLit Book. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2016.

Adams, Jennifer. A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Fairies Primer. Illus. Alison Oliver. Little Master Shakespeare. A BabyLit Book. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2011.

I stumbled upon these two Shakespeare-related board books some time ago. They're part of the BabyLit Book series, which has similar versions of Moby-Dick, Emma, Les Miserables, and The Odyssey.

These two examples deal with the texts by which they're inspired in decidedly different ways. The Romeo and Juliet one is essentially a counting book. That's fair enough—if you're going to learn to count, why not do so in a Shakespearean way? But I do wish the book incorporated more quotations from Shakespeare. For the most part, we just get items from the play that we can count:

But, on the very last page, we do get a line from Shakespeare:

I know it's probably best to stop before getting too far into the plot—but I'd still like more actual Shakespeare. And you probably knew that already.

The Midsummer Night's Dream board book is entirely made up of lines from the play; from my perspective, that already makes it more successful. Most full-page spreads provide a quotation and a character (though not necessarily the character who speaks the line). Here's one of Puck's lines with an image of Oberon:

The words are interesting and will enable parents, guardians, and older siblings to explain parts of the world of the play, inviting younger readers to imagine the plot. And the colors are remarkable and varied. Here's part of the song the fairies sing to help Titania sleep:

In short, these books do not have as much Shakespeare as this reader would like, but they are inventive, well-illustrated, and fun. Ideally, they'll start the next generation on the right path: Enjoyment of Shakespeare.

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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.
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