Saturday, April 23rd marked the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and institutions around the world celebrated the day with myriad festivities. Why not share the Bard’s poetic and dramatic gifts with your children? Prolific children’s book author Leon Garfield’s (1921-1996) adaptations of twenty-one plays are the place to start. The material in this volume is the first republished combination of two works: Shakespeare Stories, published in 1985  and Shakespeare Stories II, which didn’t appear until 1994. Both were published
by Victor Gollancz Limited.

Garfield’s ability to distill Shakespeare’s gift for intrigue, humor, wit, and adventure make this book a wonderful introduction to the Bard’s work. Neither simplistic nor boring, the stories capture the essence of Shakespeare with clear, accessible, and modern English. Accompanied by Michael Foreman’s original illustrations, Shakespeare Stories is a graceful, appealing introduction to Shakespeare. Though marketed to children reading at a fairly advanced level, adults intimidated by Elizabethan English but interested in discovering Shakespeare’s virtuosity for themselves might consider giving this book a chance–it’s far more entertaining than CliffsNotes.

Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories, illustrated by Michael Foreman; The New York Review of Children’s Books, $24.95, 576 pages, ages 12 and up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s