Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Note: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Rosen, Michael. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Illus. Jane Ray. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2004.

I don't often run across a picture book version of a Shakespeare play that I think would be worthwhile to review, but Michael Rosen and Jane Ray's version of Romeo and Juliet is an exception for one essential reason.

It's not the illustrations. They are very creditable, and they have a unique style, but they don't particularly stand out. I do appreciate that they're not sentimentalized—the characters in the story have a realistic, warts-and-all feel to them.

It's not the summary of the story. It takes some effort to do that well—especially for a younger age group—but that's something of which many are capable.

What caught my attention was the particular marriage of summary, illustration, and integration of Shakespeare's text. I'm used to seeing either complete retellings of Shakespeare's plots or illustrated editions of his text. In this book, there's a substantial amount of the text of Shakespeare's play:

I find that to be a very satisfactory marriage of text, summary, footnote, and illustration.

I also appreciated this chart of the other characters—just to help us keep them all straight!

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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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