Shakespeare’s Stories by Samantha Newman

Published: Arcturus
Pages: 128
Date published: 01/08/2021
Date read: 10/07/2021

This beautifully illustrated compendium brings the Bard’s timeless tales to life for a younger generation, with wit and panache.

Sam Newman’s cleverly reworked text retains many of Shakespeare’s own inimitable turns of phrase, while simplifying and clarifying the language to make stories accessible to children. Khoa Le’s opulent colour illustrations will delight young and old alike.

***

Thanks to NetGalley and Arcturus Publishing for the advanced reader copy in return for an honest review.

Not to be stereotypically English, but oh how I love William Shakespeare. The one thing I would save from my house in a fire – apart from my mother and my dog – is my copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. It is 200+ years old, bound in embossed leather, is incredibly heavy and tactile in the hand, and not particularly child friendly. I also own many other old – and new – copies of individual Shakespeare plays and would love it if the kids in my family loved it as much as I do. However, there is this suggestion that Shakespeare is stuffy and hard to read, and I suppose if you’re not used to reading a play format, it could be.

I’m really happy to have come across this illustrated retelling of some of his most famous works. It is easy to approach, unthreatening, enjoyable and fun, and Khoa Le’s illustrations are just adorable, but the right side of twee.

It doesn’t dumb the plays down for the children, but gives them an enjoyable experience. It is great for newbies and lovers alike. When reading a play, you can get caught up in the format and struggle to follow the plot if you’re not used to it. So this way, the reader – be them a child or adult – really gets to the crux of the storyline.

It has actually given me a more thorough appreciation of Shakespeare’s writings, and I think it’s probably easier to read in public than a 1,000+ page tome.

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